Singapore Could Be Adding Self-Sailing Ships To Its Autonomous Projects

Singapore-registered ship
An aerial photo shows the Cap Jackson container ship, registered in Singapore, docked at Harbor Island at the Port of Seattle in Seattle, Washington, U.S. March 21, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson)

Singapore has just unveiled a new lab that could add self-sailing ships to its growing list of autonomous projects that could put the city-state on an authoritative position in the global market of high-end, smart technology.

According to Business Times Singapore, it was announced on Tuesday that Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) steering committee will be closely working with an innovation lab that will target the potential development of self-sailing ships. The city-state has already kicked off work on autonomous drones and vehicles as part of the ultimate scheme to develop futuristic transport methods.

The MPA is investing $7.2 million for the grandiose scheme that will see vessels sailing without pilots. Instead, these ships will use a remote piloting system that will guide them to destination ports. A total of five projects are being developed for the plan.

"Autonomous navigation has the potential to increase productivity and enhance navigational safety," chairperson of the Singapore Shipping Association's technical committee, Steen Lund, said of the initiative.

A separate committee that includes representatives from various agencies will be working to raise awareness about autonomous shipping. Futuristic ports will also be prepared to ensure that self-sailing ships will reach their destination safely.

While the MPA's program heads will be prioritized in terms of laboratory use for autonomous ship projects, the Singaporean authority clarified that other researchers can use the MPA Innovation Lab. Shipbuilding firms and research institutes will be allowed to use lab facilities for projects that seek to improve maritime capacities and reach.

Industry analysts noted that the self-sailing ship project will help drive Singapore to a higher level of maritime leadership. This will be achieved through the use of various intelligent systems, automation applications, and data analytics.

Other countries have announced plans for smart ships over the last few years but Singapore might be one of the first few to actually allocate funds for this particular project. Furthermore, the MPA is looking to explore future technologies that will improve the maritime sector's technological prowess.

As part of the initiative, ST Engineering has been tapped to develop high-end navigation modules on Singapore's car carrier ship. The ship will be steered remotely as it sails along global routes including the Suez Canal, the Straits of Malacca, and the Panama Canal.

The MPA said it will work on the million-dollar project with efficiency and cost-effective but high-quality methods. More importantly, the port authority reiterated that the project will be focused on developing fast and safe self-sailing ships.

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