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Vessel Becomes Unique Lab and Demonstrator for New Technologies

vessel serves as demonstration laboratory for new technologies
Former fishery patrol boat is now a technology demonstration labratory (Wartsila)

Published Sep 6, 2022 8:26 PM by The Maritime Executive

One of the challenges for shipowners and operators in deciding on new technologies is often that they needed to be ordered without experiencing how they perform in real-life environments. Wärtsilä Voyage, part of the technology group Wärtsilä, unveiled at SMM in Hamburg a unique new solution, a demonstrator and innovation vessel that presents a platform to experience different technologies.

The 79-foot-long vessel named Ahti started her life as a German Government fishery patroller. She was chosen as a target for retrofit technology installations to prove what is already technologically possible for the current fleet, and to create a platform for further innovation and development. According to the company, she will profit a platform for trials that will be conducted in changeable real-life sea conditions which can be difficult and costly to recreate in a laboratory environment.

The creation of a floating R&D facility also helps Wärtsilä Voyage to cut down the cost and time barriers associated with real-life tests, returning meaningful results on a much lower risk and cost base than going into full-scale testing directly. Ahti also creates a first-party resource where customers and technology partners can collaborate. She will host partner technologies as well as those developed by Wärtsilä.

“Technology designed to solve the industry’s biggest challenges must be tested in situations that come as close as possible to real-life scenarios,” said Hendrik Bußhoff, Head of Product - Autonomous Systems, Wärtsilä Voyage during the preview of the new platform. “We understand that real world testing is costly and time-consuming. Trialing new equipment almost always means testing it on a customer ship which can often bring with it a lot of obligations and questions about documentation, schedules, data ownership, and compliance. This is why we invested in Ahti. We now have a resource that will shorten time-to-market, enable us to fail fast and innovate quicker, and compare and understand different technologies outside controlled environments.”

In the first half of 2022, Ahti’s bridge was upgraded with several products from Wärtsilä Voyage’s portfolio. The vessel has also been fitted with on-the-market partner technology products from OSCAR and Drynet. Soon, Wärtsilä Voyage will be installing SceneScan, SmartMove, Remote Control, and Satellite Connectivity onboard. With this expansive breadth of technology onboard, the company says Ahti has become a bridge to the highly automated, connected, situationally aware, and data-enabled future of the maritime industry.