Ferry Docks Successfully Using Automated Control System


By The Maritime Executive 04-26-2018 06:49:21

Wärtsilä has successfully carried out testing of its autodocking technology using the Folgefonn, an 83-meter (270-foot) ferry owned by Norwegian operator Norled. The installation of autodocking on a ferry is a world first.

The autodocking tests took place between January and April, and at no time during the tests did the captain need to take manual control.

The system is activated some two kilometers (1.2 miles) 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, says Wärtsilä.

Wärtsilä says the autodocking technology improves safety as there is less likelihood of human error, less wear and tear since the thrusters are efficiently used 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 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.

In 2017, the same Wärtsilä team successfully tested the remote control of a ship sailing in the North Sea from San Diego, California.

Wärtsilä’s autodocking project is supported Innovation Norway.