Oslo - The technology group Wärtsilä has successfully completed a further round of test procedures of its automated dock-to-dock solution. In an unprecedented operation, in the presence of the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA), the system was further tested on the ferry ‘Folgefonn’, this time for full dock-to-dock capability, with the autonomous operation being utilised uninterrupted for the entire route, visiting all three ports serviced by the ship.
“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,” says Joonas Makkonen, Vice President, Voyage Solutions, Wärtsilä.
The success of these latest tests cannot be underestimated. Once the operator selected the next destination berth, the operation was started by simply selecting “Sail”, which authorises the autonomous controller to take control of the vessel. The ferry 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.
Navigation of the vessel is controlled through the use of a series of tracks and waypoints, which guide the ship to the next destination. 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 is being tested as a secondary position sensor for the approach to the berth.