Drones, making the connection

Kotug's drone concept aims to remove the bow tug from the danger zone (Kotug) Kotug's drone concept aims to remove the bow tug from the danger zone (Kotug)
Industry Database

Rotterdam-based Kotug has applied for a patent to use drone technology to reduce the risks for tugs operating in the so-called danger zone when connecting towlines to ships.

The history of towing is one of evolution and innovation. Whether it is development of thruster technologies or ‘green tugs’ aimed at improving operational efficiencies, those involved certainly cannot be accused of standing still with improving the product.

Improving safety is important motivation for innovation and with unmanned tugs on the drawing board, connecting a towline to the assisted ship is an obvious hurdle so Kotug’s plans to use a drone for this, while aimed at safer and more efficient working could have a link to the topic of unmanned tugs.

Dangers are particularly present when the forward tug is manoeuvred close to the bow of the ship while underway with potentially disastrous consequences should the tug loose power or position. Operating in this danger zone sees the heaving line being passed from the ship, Kotug’s solution involves transferring a messenger line from the tug to a predetermined location using object recognition software. This allows the tug to safely sail beside rather than in front of the assisted ship.

Kotug plans a series of tests for full operational use of the drone including standard operating procedures in conjunction with relevant authorities and stakeholders.

Kotug is not alone in this field. At ITS 2016 Eddy Tugs discussed its own thoughts on the subject including potential use of motion-controlled crane arms (similar to hose-booms on bunker barges). A preferred solution is the use of a tethered air-drone with a 20kg payload, electronic flight stabilisation and enhanced endurance from power supplied via a thin cable inside the tether. With development work surrounding unmanned tugs it is clear the associated conundrum of how to make the towing connection is being addressed.

By Peter Barker

Latest Press Releases

A Huge Success for Datum Electronics’ Cutting-Edge Marine Shaft Power Meter at SMM Hamburg

SMM Hamburg, the biggest maritime fair of 2018, ended recently and Datum Electronics, together with ... Read more

Damen supplies DOP150 submersible dredge pump for new power plant project in Brazil

Damen has supplied a DOP150 submersible dredge pump to Brazilian civil engineering contractor BELOV.... Read more

Damen performs tank testing of new FCS 7011

Damen Shipyards Group has carried out tank testing of its 70-metre Fast Crew Supplier (FCS) 7011. Th... Read more

Damen Shipyards Galati opens historical exhibition as part of continuing 125 year anniversary celebrations

Displaying an extensive collection of historical maritime memorabilia, Damen Shipyards Galati has op... Read more

Damen Chairman meets Romanian Minister of Economy

3 September 2018: Chairman and owner of Damen Shipyards Group Kommer Damen has held a meeting with t... Read more

Wilson Sons delivers third Damen designed ASD Tug 2411 to SAAM SMIT Towage in Brazil

Wilson Sons Estaleiros has delivered the third Damen designed ASD Tug 2411 to SAAM SMIT Towage in Br... Read more

View all