Rolls-Royce has collaborated with Denmark-based towage operator Svitzer to demonstrate the world's first remotely operated commercial vessel in Copenhagen harbour.

The presentation saw a 28m-long tug from Svitzer safely conduct a number of remotely controlled manoeuvres.

The tug’s captain was stationed at the vessel’s remote base at Svitzer headquarters and successfully berthed the vessel alongside the quay, before undocking, turning the unit 360°, and piloting it to the Svitzer headquarters, before finally docking again.

Svitzer used its Hermod tug equipped with a Rolls-Royce Dynamic Positioning System during the demonstration, which is the key link to the remote controlled device. 

It also featured a pair of MTU 16V4000 M63 diesel engines from Rolls-Royce, each rated 2000kW at 1800rpm.

Additionally, the vessel also includes a range of sensors that are able to combine different data inputs using advanced software to give the captain a better understanding of the vessel and its surroundings.

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The data is transmitted reliably and securely from the operator's control centre to a Remote Operating Centre (ROC).

The vessel had a fully qualified captain and crew on-board throughout the presentation to ensure safe operation in the event of a system failure. Lloyd’s Register also provided assitance during the demonstration.

"We’ve been saying for a couple of years that a remotely operated commercial vessel would be in operation by the end of the decade."

Rolls-Royce Marine president Mikael Makinen said: “We’ve been saying for a couple of years that a remotely operated commercial vessel would be in operation by the end of the decade.

“Thanks to a unique combination of Svitzer’s operational knowledge and our technological expertise, we have made that vision a reality much sooner than we anticipated.”

Both Rolls-Royce and Svitzer have signed an agreement to continue their cooperation to test remote and autonomous vessel operations.

The cooperation will mainly focus on the fields of autonomous navigation, situational awareness, remote control centres and communication.

Image: Rolls-Royce demonstrates world’s first remotely operated commercial vessel. Photo: courtesy of Rolls-Royce plc.