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Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders (MDL) in Mumbai has achieved a significant milestone in autonomous vessel technology. The company’s autonomous navigation system, equipped with dual navigation capabilities, has undergone successful demonstration and certification on the tugboat MT Andaman by the Indian Register of Shipping (IRS).

The IRS conducted a comprehensive review process, meticulously examining the system’s design concept, documentation, software quality, and potential risks. This evaluation adhered to the organization’s established guidelines for remotely operated and autonomous surface vessels.

Prior to real-world testing, the autonomous navigation software underwent rigorous simulation trials at the manufacturer’s development center, following approved Factory Acceptance Test procedures.

The autonomous system incorporates a Remote-Control Centre (RCC), enabling complete control and monitoring of the vessel from a designated off-site location. This RCC facilitates remote operation of the tug’s propulsion and steering systems. Additionally, the RCC can monitor key machinery functions, navigation parameters, and situational awareness systems, providing a comprehensive operational picture.

Following installation onboard the MT Andaman, the IRS meticulously verified the system’s functionality through harbor trials, adhering to approved Harbor Acceptance Test procedures. These trials successfully confirmed the remote control capabilities from the RCC and the system’s ability to monitor critical aspects of the vessel’s operation.

The sea trials further demonstrated the system’s proficiency in collision avoidance, strictly following the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREG). Additionally, the trials assessed the system’s response to various emergency scenarios, including the loss of primary controls and communication with the RCC.

The Indian Navy played a crucial role in ensuring the safety of the sea trials by deploying an interceptor boat for close monitoring and intervention if necessary.