Singapore taps AI for upcoming Tuas mega port

Singapore is using artificial intelligence to test its upcoming Tuas mega port. Credit: MPA
Singapore is using artificial intelligence to test its upcoming Tuas mega port. Credit: MPA

Singapore is using artificial intelligence (AI) to test its upcoming Tuas mega port, further testament to its commitment to become a technology leader.

Port operations in the top maritime centre will eventually move to the Tuas mega port, a multibillion-dollar project that will open progressively from 2021. When fully operational in 2040, it will double Singapore’s handling capacity to 65 million teu.

Ahead of that, Singapore is developing a digital twin of the facility to help researchers evaluate different layout designs and concepts and how they affect the efficiency of port operations, according to local media reports.

In general, a digital twin refers to a digital simulation of physical assets, processes, and systems, among others. This provides a basis for modelling and testing, allowing for updates and changes to the base model.

This is one of several projects being developed at the newly launched Centre of Excellence in Modelling and Simulation for Next Generation Ports (C4NGP). The research centre uses simulation analytics and AI to optimise operations, such as moving the greatest number of containers in the least amount of time.

The digital twin can also be used to simulate potential disruptions to operations at the Tuas mega port. Such disruptions include natural disasters and extreme weather events.

C4NGP, part of the National University of Singapore’s engineering faculty, is the result of a joint collaboration with the Singapore Maritime Institute. It will help Singapore’s maritime and port industries develop innovative capabilities while working with companies in these sectors to improve their technical knowhow, efficiency, and productivity.

“The long-term goal of creating a future-oriented digital maritime ecosystem will promote innovation and further enhance Singapore’s competitiveness as a leading maritime capital,” Chew Ek Peng, C4NGP’s director, was quoted as saying.

“We are not just building a larger port. We are building a smarter, more cutting-edge port,” Lam Pin Min, senior minister of state for transport and health, said at the opening of the research centre.

“We are looking to deploy smarter systems and state-of-the-art technologies, as well as increase the degree of automation at the future Tuas Terminal.”

Concurrently, Singapore has been building an ecosystem that draws on various technologies to develop solutions for the maritime sector. They include robotics and blockchain technology, and most recently, 3D printing.