Wärtsilä has successfully completed testing of its autodocking technology. The tests were carried out with the Folgefonn, an 83m (272') ferry owned by Norwegian operator Norled. The vessel has hybrid propulsion and is already fitted with a Wärtsilä wireless charging system. The installation of autodocking on a ferry is a world first.
The autodocking tests took place beginning 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 some 2,000 metres 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.
Wärtsilä’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 the Folgefonn available to Wärtsilä for further development of a number of Wärtsilä Smart Marine products and systems. Among the Wärtsilä 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.
“These tests represent an important element within Wärtsilä’s overall smart marine vision,” Roger Holm, president, Wärtsilä Marine Solutions, said in a statement announcing the successful installation. “Autodocking can become a vital part of our offering to the ferry and other shipping markets, and will further promote our activities in leading the transformation into a new era of high efficiency and profitability for our customers,”
“We are pleased to support Wärtsilä’s efforts for creating greater efficiencies for marine operators. Technologies that improve safety, reduce operating costs, and lower the environmental impact can only be good for our industry,” said Sigvald Breivik, technical director, Norled. Wärtsilä’s autodocking project is supported by the Norwegian state-owned Innovasjon Norge (Innovation Norway).
In 2017, the same Wärtsilä team successfully tested remote controlling of a ship sailing in the North Sea from its San Diego location. Developing intelligent vessels is central to Wärtsilä’s smart marine ecosystem vision.