Norwegian Ferry Tests Autodocking System


A ferry owned by Norwegian operator Norled is the first in the world to experiment with autodocking technology.

Equipped with Wärtsilä’s innovative autodocking system, the 83-meter ferry Folgefonn concluded three months of testing with harbor docking trials in April.

The autodocking system activates some 2,000 meters from the berth and keeps the vessel transiting at its normal transit speed until it gradually slows down to activate the line-up and docking maneuver. The vessel operates completely automatically until secured at the berth.

Full maneuvering of the vessel, including the steering and propulsion, is automatically controlled by the software, with manual intervention and control possible at any moment if need be. At no time during the tests did Folgefonn’s captain need to take manual control of the vessel.

When the ship is ready to sail again, the system may be used for the departure procedure in an identical but reverse manner.

Wärtsilä, who received support for the autodocking pilot project from the Norwegian state-owned Innovasjon Norge (Innovation Norway), said developing intelligent vessels is central to its smart marine ecosystem vision. In 2017, the same Wärtsilä team tested remote controlling of a ship sailing in the North Sea from its San Diego location.

The company believes autodocking technology delivers significant benefits to operators, including improved safety since there is less likelihood of human error and ship’s officers can focus on situational awareness outside the wheelhouse. In addition, greater efficiency in docking allows more time at berth, and there is less wear and tear on the vessel since the thrusters are utilized more efficiently.

Norled has made the Folgefonn available for further development of a number of Wärtsilä’s 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.

“We thank Norled for their valued cooperation in this project. These tests represent an important element within Wärtsilä’s overall smart marine vision. 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,” says Roger Holm, President, Wärtsilä Marine Solutions.

“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,” says Sigvald Breivik, Technical director, Norled.

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Source: Wartsila