Remote control navigating was performed from the Wärtsilä office in San Diego, California, 8,000 km (5,000 mi) away.
TheHighland Chieftain is an 80-m (262-ft) PSV that was already fitted with a Wärtsilä Nacos Platinum package for navigation, automation and DP systems, as well as a Wärtsilä drives package.
For the test, further software was added temporarily to the DP system in order to route data over the vessel’s satellite link to the onshore work station in California.
The testing employed standard bandwidth onboard satellite communication, with no land-based technology used for the communications between the vessel and the remote operator work station.
Retrofitting of the DP software was completed within 30 hours.
The test was conducted over close to four hours, during which the vessel was driven through a series of maneuvers at high and low speeds. All the test procedures are said to have gone as planned.
“In the age of digitalization, the future Smart Marine ecosystem will involve connecting ‘smart’ vessels with ‘smart’ ports to enable an even more efficient use of resources,” said Roger Holm, president, Wärtsilä Marine Solutions.
Andrea Morgante, head of Digital, added: “One of the first and most critical hurdles to overcome along the path to the enablement of intelligent shipping is to develop efficient and reliable remote control and monitoring capabilities, taking factors such as bandwidth limitations and cyber security into consideration.”
Wärtsilä’s aims to in the future to provide virtual service solutions to customers needing tuning or testing of their DP systems, and expects this approach to be adapted for other pilot projects, such as automated docking procedures.