Wartsila claims 'world first' by autodocking ferry

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The following is text of a news release from Wartsila:

(HELSINKI, Finland) — The technology group Wartsila has successfully carried out testing of its innovative autodocking technology. The tests were carried out with Folgefonn, a 272-foot-long ferry owned by leading Norwegian operator Norled. The vessel has hybrid propulsion and is already fitted with a Wartsila wireless charging system. The installation of autodocking on a ferry is a world first.

The autodocking tests took place commencing in January of this year and were completed in April with actual harbor docking trials. At no time during the tests did the captain need to take manual control.

The procedure means that the system is activated about 6,500 feet from the berth and the vessel continues at normal transit speed. The system then performs a gradual slowing of speed, and activates the line-up and docking maneuver fully automatically until the ship is secured at the berth. When the ship is ready to sail again, the system may be used for the departure procedure in an identical but reverse manner.

Full maneuvering of the vessel, including the steering and propulsion, is automatically controlled by the software. However, manual intervention and control is possible at any time. The automatic function allows the ship’s officers to focus on situational awareness outside the wheelhouse, thereby improving the safety and reliability of the operations.

Wartsila’s autodocking technology delivers notable benefits to operators. These include improved safety since there is less likelihood of human error; less wear and tear since the thrusters are efficiently utilized; and greater efficiency in docking which allows more time at berth.

Norled has made Folgefonn available to Wartsila for further development of a number of Wartsila Smart Marine products and systems. Among the Wartsila technologies already installed and tested are its energy optimization system, the hybrid propulsion system, wireless inductive battery charging, and energy storage. The ferry can now be operated with automatic wireless charging, automatic vacuum mooring and automated docking.

Wartsila’s autodocking project is supported by the Norwegian state-owned Innovasjon Norge (Innovation Norway).

In 2017, the same Wartsila team successfully tested remote controlling of a ship sailing in the North Sea from its San Diego, Calif., location.

By Professional Mariner Staff