For ocean voyagers, the probability of encountering a commercial vessel with no one on board appears to be increasing. Earlier this year, the captain of the 90-foot tugboat Svitzer Hammond made shipping history when he maneuvered around the tugboat without setting foot on the vessel. The Svitzer Hammond captain was sitting in the remote control station at Svitzer company headquarters in Copenhagen, piloting the vessel using an array of sensors. Svitzer and Rolls-Royce partnered on the development of the remotely controlled tug. “[It] was a world first,” said Mikael Makinen, president of the Rolls-Royce marine sector, “a genuinely historic moment for the maritime industry.”
The tug captain docked the tugboat again near Svitzer headquarters, demonstrating that the time of autonomous shipping was becoming a reality.
Rolls-Royce and Svitzer plan to continue the development of this technology and construct remote-controlled and autonomous vessels.