Wärtsilä has successfully tested its autodocking technology on an 83m-long ferry, Folgefonn, owned by Norwegian operator Norled.

Folgefonn is equipped with hybrid propulsion and is fitted with a Wärtsilä wireless charging system.

During the autodocking tests, which began in January this year and ended in April, actual harbour docking trials were carried out without resorting to manual control.

The autodocking system is activated nearly 2000m from the berth and allows the vessel to continue to sail at normal transit speed. The system then gradually slows the vessel’s speed and activates the line-up and docking manoeuvre automatically until the ship docks securely at its berth.

Before resuming its journey, the system may be used to conduct the departure procedure in an identical but reverse way.

Developed with the support of Norway’s state-owned Innovasjon Norge (Innovation Norway), the system’s software is designed to automatically perform full manoeuvring of the vessel, including the steering and propulsion.

“The automatic system enables the ship’s officers to focus on situational awareness outside the wheelhouse and eventually helps to enhance the safety and reliability of operations.”

It also enables manual intervention and control at any time during a journey. The automatic system enables the ship’s officers to focus on situational awareness outside the wheelhouse and eventually helps to enhance the safety and reliability of operations.

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The autodocking solution offers various benefits to operators such as improved safety as there is less possibility of human error, less wear and tear, and more efficiency in docking that offers more time at berth.

Wärtsilä Marine Solutions president Roger Holm said: “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.”

Wärtsilä has also installed and tested its energy optimisation system, hybrid propulsion system, wireless inductive battery charging, and energy storage on Folgefonn.

The ferry can conduct automatic wireless charging, automatic vacuum mooring and automated docking operations.