Ship Control by Autonomous Tugboats - Development of an Adaptable Test Platform for Autonomous Tugboat Research and Development
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This project originated as an open-ended product development challenge on the topic of autonomous tugboats, supported by Kongsberg Maritime. The vision behind the project is twofold. In part, it is a futuristic vision of swarms of autonomous tugboats inhabiting the worlds harbours . The other part is to show that by applying the PD tools and methods taught at TrollLABS, we can make significant headway in an emerging field of development, using very little time and resources. The focus of this project has been to develop and realize a realistic, scale test setup for implementation and validation of different strategies for ship control by autonomous tugboats, and to Demonstrate a working proof of concept strategy on this setup in collaboration with Rebecca Lillian Cox. The test setup is low-cost, easy to use and can adapt to experiment with an array of different parameters pertaining to autonomous tugboats. Because this is a master's thesis in product development, the methods and tools use to manage the project have been an equally important part of the thesis. The most important tools and methods used are adaptations of Concurrent Engineering, Design For X and Agile, and the main motivation behind the choice of these has been to keep a quick pace throughout the project, without making design mistakes that result in major rework. While the scope of the project forced the author to take many shortcuts in technical implementation, often at the expense of performance and technical depth, the learning outcome in terms of product development management has been tremendous. Having acted as mechanical, electrical, control and software engineer, manufacturer and product manager in a single project, he has gained a unique perspective on the work-flow and interaction between these fields. He considers this experience invaluable in a world where the fields of engineering are more interwoven than ever. This, the functional test setup and a study on autonomous tugboat operations have been the main results of this project.