First auto-docking system on the market

SmartDock auto-docking system Testing Wärtsilä's SmartDock auto-docking system. Credit: Wärtsilä

Wärtsilä has secured the first order for its SmartDock auto-docking system, marking what is believed to be the world’s first commercially available auto-docking solution.

Designed to help realise the full commercial potential of autonomous vessels, the SmartDock system automates docking procedures to mitigate potential human errors resulting from ship officers having to perform technical manoeuvres many times a day. Automated docking is expected to assist with efficiency and safety in entering and leaving tight docking spaces, where significant damage can be caused by forceful collisions with the dock walls.

Joonas Makkonen, vice president at Voyage Solutions, Wärtsilä, said: “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.”

One button control

The ‘sail’ button allows the SmartDock system to manage leaving the dock, manoeuvring out of the harbour, sailing to the next port of call, manoeuvring into the harbour and docking alongside the quay.

Sea trials were carried out onboard the Folgefonn, an 85m long ferry owned by Norwegian operator Norled. Testing also included operating the automatic 180-degree rotational turn of the vessel, as well as Wärtsilä Guidance Marine’s secondary position sensor, CyScan AS with GeoLock technology.

By Rebecca Jeffrey

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