With the successful demonstration of an automated dock-to-dock ship sail, it seems autonomous technology will soon conquer choppy waters too. Technology company Wärtsilä reports that it has successfully completed a further round of test procedures of its automated dock-to-dock solution, on the 85m ferry ‘Folgefonn’ owned by Norwegian operator Norled.
Wärtsilä announced in a written statement that it has carried out a successful test of the company’s technology, which allows autonomous vessels to sail dock-to-dock without any human interference. The ferry “Folgefonn” had been chosen for the trial run and was observed by the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) with autonomous operation being utilized uninterrupted for the entire route, visiting all three ports serviced by the ship.
For the test, once the operator selected the next destination berth, operations commenced by simply selecting ‘Sail’, which authorized the autonomous controller to takeover running the vessel. The ferry then left the dock, maneuvered out of the harbor, sailed to the next port of call, maneuvered through the harbor entrance, and docked alongside the terminal – all without any human intervention/ assistance
“This represents a huge step forward in validating automated shipping solutions,” says Joonas Makkonen, Vice President, Voyage Solutions at Wärtsilä, in the press release. The release quoted him saying, “This emphasizes once again Wärtsilä’s recognized 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.”
Investment fund Innovation Norway has awarded grants to both Wärtsilä and Norled, which owns the ferry “Folgefonn”, for the testing of the autonomous docking technology. Sigbjørn Myrvang, technical manager at Norled said, “We are pleased to cooperate with Wärtsilä in this exciting project. A fully autonomous dock-to-dock solution will provide us with considerable value-adding benefits in terms of better efficiency, greater safety, and lower fuel consumption and, therefore, reduced exhaust emissions.”
The autonomous controller, which is based on Wärtsilä’s existing Dynamic Positioning system, controls the vessel’s speed, position on the pre-defined track, and heading. GNSS is used as the primary sensor, while a Wärtsilä Guidance Marine CyScan AS system is being tested as a secondary position sensor for the approach to the berth.
Giving more details of the sail 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 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.”