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ABB trials autonomous passenger ferry

ABB trials autonomous passenger ferry
Rebecca Strong 07 Dec 2018

Swiss-Swedish technology company, ABB, and Helsinki City Transport have successfully demonstrated what is believed to be the world’s first autonomous passenger ferry.

The ice-class Suomenlinna II, with Azipod electric propulsion and retrofitted with ABB’s Ability Marine Pilot Control dynamic positioning system, was remotely piloted through a test area near Helsinki harbour in Finland.

“We are excited about the potential impact of this test on the future of the maritime industry,” said Peter Terwiesch, president of ABB’s industrial automation division.

“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.”

This breakthrough trial represents a crucial step toward increasing the maritime industry’s acceptance of autonomous operation and allaying safety concerns.

“Autonomous does not mean unmanned,” said Juha Koskela, managing director at ABB’s marine and ports unit.

“As vessels become more electric, digital and connected than ever before, ABB is able to equip seafarers with existing solutions that augment their skillsets. In this way, we are enhancing the overall safety of marine operations.”

The trial took place with no passengers aboard, in an area free of other vessels. Whilst the ferry is now equipped with the new dynamic positioning system, she will continue to operate via a set of conventional onboard controls, with the remote mode deployed during the trial only.