Wärtsilä smart dock 1

Wärtsilä Auto-docking System on Sale

Ships docking by themselves has become reality now that technology group Wärtsilä from Finland has booked its first order for SmartDock. This makes it the world’s first commercially available auto-docking solution and is a significant step towards the realisation of autonomous vessels.

The captain can select the destination and with a simple click of the "sail" button, the SmartDock system takes over. The ship then leaves the dock, manoeuvres out of the harbour, sails to the next port of call, manoeuvres into the harbour and docks alongside the quay, all without human intervention.

Sea Trials on Board the Folgefonn

Sea trials of the system were carried out on board the Folgefonn, an 85-metre long ferry owned by Norwegian operator Norled. The testing also included operating the automatic 180-degree rotational turn of the vessel, as well as Wärtsilä Guidance Marine’s CyScan AS with GeoLock technology, a crucial cyber-security enhancing secondary position sensor, which enables the approach to the berth to continue even if the GPS signal is lost.

Mitigating Human Error

By automating docking procedures, the SmartDock system mitigates potential human errors resulting from ship officers having to perform these technical manoeuvres many times a day. This is especially important on, for example, larger ferries that must enter and leave tight docking spaces, where significant damage can be caused by forceful collisions with the dock walls. Efficiency and safety is, therefore, considerably increased.

Watch a video about Wärtsilä's SmartDock below.

Built from Offshore Automation and Positioning Technology

'The SmartDock solution is the culmination of decades of extensive research and testing by Wärtsilä in automation technology. Our system draws on similar automation and positioning technology used by oil rig support vessels to maintain proximity to the rig in the toughest sea environments. This gives us absolute confidence in SmartDock’s ability to meet the urgent commercial need to provide the safest possible docking for commuter ferries,' says Joonas Makkonen, Vice President, Voyage Solutions, Wärtsilä.

Collaboration between Crew and Technology

The Wärtsilä SmartDock system 'is unique in that it works hand-in-hand with the captain to ensure the best performance on every docking, every day. It’s the perfect collaboration between an experienced crew and technology,' says Inge Andre Utåker, Regional director, Norled.

Picture: Advanced testing of the Wärtsilä SmartDock solution was completed over a four-day period, which was followed with a product demonstration to customer groups.

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.

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