Drone to be Used in Tug Operations
Tugboat company Kotug has applied for a patent for the use of drone technology in its tug operations. The company says the use of a drone to connect the towline to an assisted vessel will drastically improve the safety margin of tug operations by avoiding the need for maneuvering in the so-called danger zone.
Kotug is the first tugboat company to use the 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 or damage to the tug and the assisted vessel.
A series of tests is scheduled to be performed and standard operating procedures will be developed in conjunction with relevant authorities and stakeholders.