Drone technology for safer tug operations

December 21, 2017

KOTUG has applied for a patent to use drone technology in its tug operations, in its ambition to achieve safer and more efficient working conditions. This pioneering invention – using a drone to connect the towline to an assisted vessel – will drastically improve the safety margin of tug operations as this will avoid the need for manoeuvring in the so-called danger zone. 

KOTUG is the first tugboat company that uses this technology: to deliver a messenger line to a predetermined  location with object recognition software. Instead of picking up the heaving line of the assisted ship, the messenger line of the tug will be brought to the assisted ship in a more controlled manner. This will allow the tug to safely sail beside the assisted ship instead of in front of the assisted ship.

Conventionally, tugboat and crew position themselves in front of and close to the assisted vessel in order to grab the heaving line by hand. By doing so, the tug and crew position themselves in the danger zone, close and even under the (flared) bow of a vessel. A minor flaw in the operation can result in major injuries of the deck crew and/or damage to the tug and the assisted vessel.

A series of tests is scheduled to be performed by KOTUG for full operational use of this revolutionary technology for which standard operating procedures will be developed in conjunction with relevant authorities and stakeholders.