The vessel Bastø Fosen VI has successfully completed a first fully automated ferry transit while fully loaded with passengers and vehicles, with automatic control from dock to dock, at an autonomous operation demonstration event involving shipping company Bastø Fosen, Kongsberg and the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA).
Bastø Fosen VI will now use adaptive transit functions developed from Kongsberg Maritime technologies to support the daily operation of its Horten-Moss service, while continuing to carry a full complement of crew.
Kongsberg says that the fully-integrated digital system automatically performs all docking and crossing functions to a repeatable level of accuracy, that ensures best practices are followed and emissions are kept to a minimum.
Tests of the system have shown excellent timekeeping performance to date – during trials in December, Bastø Fosen VI consistently arrived within two seconds of the scheduled time.
“Today, at the press of a button, one of our vessels left the quay in Horten, crossed the Oslo fjord and docked in Moss, all completely automatically. This leaves the crew more time to focus on monitoring the vessel and ensuring passenger safety, which for us are the main motivations for adopting this technology,” said Øyvind Lund, CEO of Bastø Fosen, speaking at the event.
“Cooperation with Kongsberg and the NMA has been crucial to the success of this venture, as has consultation with our captains and crew. We have included them in this project from the start and have been delighted with how engaged they have been in its delivery.”
“This is an aid, not a replacement. Greater accuracy permits better logistics: for example, we can now pre-program the time allowed for the crossing and thus reduce energy consumption. Digitalisation and automation are the future, and we are proud to be prime movers.”
Bastø Fosen VI now enters a six-month trial period during which the automatic system – called ‘adaptive transit’ – is expected to control the vessel for most services, but the captain will remain in charge and the bridge will be fully staffed.
At present, the installed equipment is not fully autonomous – if vessels or objects are detected on a collision course an alarm will sound and the captain will take control.
An anti-collision system, comprising radar and electro-optical sensors, is expected to be fitted to Bastø Fosen VI this summer and be under test by autumn, but crew will remain on the bridge even as the level of autonomy increases. To maintain manoeuvring skills, Bastø Fosen’s procedures will require their staff to perform manual transits on a regular basis.