Technology group Wärtsilä has successfully completed a round of test procedures of its automated dock-to-dock solution, signalling further advancements in rendering automated shipping a reality.
In an unprecedented operation, in the presence of the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA), the system was tested on the 85-metre long ferry ‘Folgefonn’.
The ship visited and docked at three ports.
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Joonas Makkonen, Vice President, Voyage Solutions, Wärtsilä, said: “This represents a huge step forward in validating automated shipping solutions, and an important progression within our Smart Marine programme.
“This emphasises once again Wärtsilä’s recognised position as the global technology leader in marine innovations.
“We continue to lead the way in developing the ‘intelligent’ products and systems needed to move the marine industry towards a new era of super-high efficiency, safety, and environmental sustainability.”
The video above shows Wartsila's plan for autonomous shipping
The automated docking makes the berthing incredibly easy for an operator.
After an operator selects a destination berth, the operation is started by simply selecting “Sail”, which authorises the autonomous controller to take control of the vessel.
In the test runs, the ship was able to leave the dock, manoeuvre out of the harbour, sail to the next port of call, manoeuvre through the harbour entrance, and dock alongside the terminal – all without human intervention.
It is believed to be the first ever attempt at fully automated dock-to-dock operation, in complete hands-off mode, for a vessel of this size.
Nils Haktor Bua, Project Manager at NMA, said: “We were on site for three days as witnesses to these tests; the first full-scale demonstration towards an autonomous operation of a vessel that we have seen.
“It was, to say the least, very impressive.
“There is no doubt that such technology can eventually increase the safety and overall efficiency of the docking and undocking operations for ships.
“Of course, further development work is still ongoing, but I am impressed by how stable the system already is at this stage.”