Helsinki City Transport trials remotely operated ferry

Helsinki City Transport trials remotely operated ferry
Suomenlinna II was remotely controlled in a trial exploring autonomous shipping using ABB’s technology (Image: ABB)

Helsinki City Transport has successfully trialled its ice-class Suomenlinna II as a remotely operated passenger ferry by using technology provided by Swiss robotics and power technology firm ABB. The collaboration aims to enhance marine safety by exploring autonomous shipping. 

Suomenlinna II was originally built in 2004 and was retrofitted with ABB’s Ability Marine Pilot Vision situational awareness solution in 2017 and ABB’s new dynamic positioning system, ABB Ability Marine Pilot Control, for this trial. During the remote trial, which was a world first for an existing passenger ferry, the ferry was steered from a control centre in Helsinki. 

“We are excited about the potential impact of this test on the future of the maritime industry,” said Peter Terwiesch, the president of Industrial Automation at ABB. “Advanced automation solutions from ABB are making the previously impossible possible for a wide range of sectors, including shipping, which is actively searching for technologies that can rapidly deliver more efficiency and better safety.” 

The trial took place outside of the vessel’s operating hours in an area away from shore with no other vessels and without passengers aboard. Although it is already equipped with the positioning system, the vessel will continue to operate with conventional onboard controls. The remote mode will only be used during trials and research and development will continue with the ferry and her crew.

“Autonomous does not mean unmanned. As vessels become more electric, digital and connected than ever before, ABB is able to equip seafarers with existing solutions that augment their skillsets,” said Juha Koskela, managing director of Marine and Ports at ABB. “In this way, we are enhancing the overall safety of marine operations.” 

Watch the video of the trial.

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Elly Yates-Roberts
By Elly Yates-Roberts
Wednesday, December 12, 2018