Wärtsilä Reveals Automated Docking Technology


Wärtsilä, a smart technology provider for the maritime sector, has launched the world’s first commercially available auto-docking system.

The SmartDock solution, which according to the company represents “a notable step towards realising the full commercial potential of autonomous vessels”, has secured a first order following advanced testing.

By automating docking procedures, the new system reduces the potential for human errors resulting from ship officers having to perform the same manoeuvre many times a day.

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With SmartDock, the ship’s captain only has to select a destination, after which time the intelligent system takes over and either moves the vessel out of the dock or into the harbour, all without the need for human intervention.

Joonas Makkonen, Vice President, Voyage Solutions at Wärtsilä, said: “The SmartDock solution is the culmination of decades of extensive research and testing by Wärtsilä in automation technology.

“Our system draws on similar automation and positioning technology used by oil rig support vessels to maintain proximity to the rig in the toughest sea environments.”

Successful trials of the system were observed onboard the ‘Folgefonn’, a ferry operated by Norwegian shipping company Norled.


The SmartDock solution was trialled during advanced tests (Credit: Wärtsilä)


In addition to this, the testing included an automatic 180-degree rotational turn of the vessel and the use of Wärtsilä Guidance Marine’s “cyber-security enhancing” secondary position sensor, which allows a ship to approach the berth even if the GPS signal is lost.

Jakob Steffensen, Head of innovation and technology at DFDS, attended the trial and commented: “The SmartDock solution offers improved safety and efficiency for existing vessels.

“More importantly, it represents an important part of the solutions needed to power the next generation of vessels.”

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