Tow-Botic Systems is the brainchild of Gary Vaz, a former ship captain on one of the world’s largest container vessels. As a captain, Gary Vaz experienced himself that pushing a towrope is useless when you’re mooring the ship and approaching the quay too fast. Tugboats use towropes during ship assist manoeuvrers inside harbours, which cause critical delays when the tug has to move from a push position to a pull position. Communication gaps with tugboat masters and labour issues have plagued the towage industry for many years. High fuel consumptions and engine emissions from tugs have forced ports to enforce new regulations to control air pollution from tugs. Numerous incidents of crew injury due to handling of towropes have occurred.
For a long time, he walked around with the idea of attaching autonomous rudder propellers to the underwater hull. The bridge team would then be able to manoeuvre in a port without towropes, using its own marine engines supported by bow thrusters, the so-called Towbots.
The “Towbot” has been developed to eliminate weaknesses of today’s tugs and disrupt this age-old methodology of ship towage. The Towbot attaches itself to any vessel’s underwater hull with magnet and effectively becomes an onboard thruster under the direct control of the pilot’s handheld. The pilot can then manoeuvre the vessel using a combination of vessel’s engines and Towbot thrusters. Pilots will no longer have to rely on the skill and communication of a tug master. Cost of towage assistance using the Towbot is well below half of the present towage tariffs. Towbots are electric, resulting in much lower CO2 emissions compared to tugboats, which are powered by diesel engines.
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