Detachable Underwater Thrusters for Dynamic Positioning

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Deployed by 1 company

Next generation ship positioning technology eliminating the towrope

Page last modified
April 11 2024

Tow-botic Systems has developed a patented technology to use autonomous underwater thrusters for precise ship navigation in constrained spaces. It greatly improves efficiency and lowers emissions, as well as operating costs.

Tugboats use ropes to pull and push a ship in the harbour, but ropes cause critical delays when the tug has to move into position leading to accidents. Our technology uses zero emission underwater robots (Towbots) to attach thrusters directly to ships upon arrival in port. The ship can then be controlled directly by the pilot and bridge team using a handheld device, or by a remote pilot from ashore.

The Towbot eliminates the 300 year old methodology of using towing lines, improves the response time by 98% and reduces tug operating costs by 50%.

Pros & Limitations
Response time improved by 98% (Push to pull 2-3 secs) - Instantly applied thrust
Direct control of thrusters - No dependence on the tug captain and dynamic positioning
Battery driven - Zero emissions and no fuel spillage risks
24-hour operation unmanned - No high labour cost and no constraint by rest hours
Safety - No crew injury during handling of towing lines and no tug girding
Eliminate inefficiencies - Tugs idle 50%-60% of operating time
Reduces operating cost by 50% per tug annually
Flexibility - Full thrust available in heavy seas and full ship control inside narrow locks
Positioning of submarines when remaining below the surface
Voyage time limited to onboard battery capacity. For longer voyages, power take off from vessel itself
No drydocking required
Specification Title Specification Description
Ropes do not allow tugboats to accurately maintain the position of a vessel, whereas, Towbots connected to a vessel can be used for dynamic positioning.
Response time
Change of applied thrust on the vessel from push to pull in 2-3 seconds.
Safe operating
No injuries to ship’s crew due to the towropes. Rigid attachment to vessel improves control and enables safe manouvring.
Control of the ship is maintained inside narrow locks with Towbot attached. Full thrust available even in heavy seas
Areas of Application
Barge positioning, Ship maneuvering, Offshore dynamic positioning, Ports, Submarines, Dredging, Transhipment and locks
Marine battery, no emissions, no fuel spillage risks
Model sizing (thrust power) planned according to vessel size and programmable
Certifications / licences
As per project requirements
Implementation time
Assembly line process for standardized models
Fully electric propulsion eliminates engine inefficiencies of tugboats idling at low loads and reduces emissions. Direct control of the thrust by the pilot.


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Tow-Botic Systems is focused on improving the manoeuvring safety for the Ship Captains and Pilots, and will build the next generation harbour towage eliminating the towrope. Founder Gary Vaz was a Ship Captain who conceptualized the idea after his ship allided with the wharf due to the slow response of the tugboats using towropes. We are looking for interested partners and investors who also believe that we need to have direct and better control of ships in port.

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