GEAR | Autonomous control systems installed on two Gulf Coast ATBs
US-based unmanned systems specialist Sea Machines Robotics has been selected to provide two examples of its autonomous command and helm control system for installation on two articulated tug and barge (ATB) vessels owned by an unnamed local operator.
Sea Machines said that, when the system is in use, the primary operator is no longer bound to a fixed control station. The system will enable wireless helm and propulsion control, as well as remote control of auxiliaries and payload equipment, freeing crews from a vessel’s wheelhouse to conduct operations from any location that offers the greatest visibility and safety.
The system may also be used to help connecting tugs to barge notches to form ATBs. The system will allow the pilot to be in full control of the tug and connecting pins with a direct local view of the task, as compared to conventional methods that often rely on signals relayed from another crewmember to the wheelhouse.
Along with vessel manoeuvring, the beltpack also enables wireless remote control of vessel equipment, including connection pins, pumps, winches, and anchor windlasses.
The installation work took place at a Gulf of Mexico shipyard. Sea Machine also provided crew training and familiarisation under the contract.
The US Coast Guard and the American Bureau of Shipping have approved this particular system for installation aboard this ATB class in 2020.