Technology group Wärtsilä has secured the first order for its SmartDock auto-docking system, following testing of the technology in front of industry representatives and customers earlier this month. The order confirms SmartDock as the worlds first commercially available auto-docking solution. By automating docking procedures, the system is designed to mitigate potential human errors resulting from ship officers having to perform technical maneuvers numerous times per day. According to Wärtsilä, this capability is important on larger ferries entering and leaving tight docking spaces, where damage can be caused by collisions with the dock walls. With SmartDock, the vessel captain can select the destination and with a click of the sail button enable the SmartDock system to take over. The ship then leaves the dock, maneuvers out of the harbor, sails to the next port of call, maneuvers into the harbor and docks alongside the quay, all without human intervention. The SmartDock solution is the culmination of decades of extensive research and testing by Wärtsilä in automation technology, said Joonas Makkonen, vice president, voyage solutions, Wärtsilä. 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 SmartDocks ability to meet the urgent commercial need to provide the safest possible docking for commuter ferries. The successful sea trials were carried out on board Folgefonn, an 85m-long ferry owned by Norwegian operator Norled. Testing also included operating the automatic 180o rotational turn of the vessel, as well as Wärtsilä Guidance Marines CyScan AS with GeoLock technology, a cybersecurity enhancing secondary position sensor, which enables the vessels approach to the berth to continue if GPS signal is lost.
Dean has been with UKi Media & Events for over a decade, having previously cut his journalistic teeth writing and editing for various automotive and engineering titles. He combines extensive knowledge of all things automotive with a passion for driving, and experience testing countless new vehicles, engines and technologies around the world. As well as his role as editor-in-chief across a range of UKi's media titles, he is also co-chair of the judging panel of the International Engine of the Year Awards.