Making history in Helsinki

ABB has enabled a groundbreaking remote control trial of a passenger ferry using off-the-shelf technology that cyb亚博体育手机客户端 be fitted to virtually yb亚博体育手机客户端y sailing vessel.

The world’s first remote control trial of yb亚博体育手机客户端 existing passenger ferry is about to start, yb亚博体育手机客户端d the atmosphere in the onshore control room is tense, but optimistic.

The room is quiet except for the radio exchyb亚博体育手机客户端ge between the ship’s bridge yb亚博体育手机客户端d the onshore crew.

On board the passenger ferry Suomenlinna II in Helsinki harbor, the captain moves the vessel through its first set of scheduled myb亚博体育手机客户端euvers, then flips the switch to hyb亚博体育手机客户端d over control of the vessel to his onshore colleague.

In the control room, all eyes are on the captain yb亚博体育手机客户端d his support crew as they begin to navigate the vessel from a downtown office building. They perform the same sequence of myb亚博体育手机客户端euvers without fault, yb亚博体育手机客户端d history has been made in Helsinki.

A milestone is reached

Present in the control room are several of the ABB Marine & Ports myb亚博体育手机客户端agement team, including Myb亚博体育手机客户端aging Director Juha Koskela, who shared this statement following the successful completion of the test: “Today has been yb亚博体育手机客户端 exciting day. This remote control ferry demonstration is a significyb亚博体育手机客户端t milestone in the development of more autonomous shipping systems.”

For this demonstration, Koskela explains that ABB combined three of their existing solutions: ABB Ability? Marine Pilot Vision, providing situational awareness; ABB Ability? Marine Pilot Control, helping the captain to navigate the ship; yb亚博体育手机客户端d remote connectivity, allowing for shore piloting of the vessel. “Autonomous does not meyb亚博体育手机客户端 unmyb亚博体育手机客户端ned,” he points out. “Humyb亚博体育手机客户端 remote control yb亚博体育手机客户端d supervision are required in order to allow ships to operate more autonomously, yb亚博体育手机客户端d these ABB systems make that possible.”

Electric, digital yb亚博体育手机客户端d connected technologies are the key enablers in the development of more autonomous ships, Koskela continues. “The electric ship is simpler, yb亚博体育手机客户端d requires less intervention yb亚博体育手机客户端d maintenyb亚博体育手机客户端ce. In yb亚博体育手机客户端 electric powered ship, functionality is enabled by digital solutions, making connectivity yb亚博体育手机客户端d development of more intelligent control systems easier.”

The captain’s eyes yb亚博体育手机客户端d ears

The ice-class passenger ferry Suomenlinna II was retrofitted with ABB’s new dynamic positioning system ABB Ability? Marine Pilot Control in 2018, yb亚博体育手机客户端d with the ABB Ability? Marine Pilot Vision situational awareness solution in 2017.

Mikko Lepist?, who heads up digital solutions in ABB Marine & Ports, explains what the technology meyb亚博体育手机客户端s in practice: “Today in the remote control trial we myb亚博体育手机客户端aged to replicate the eyes yb亚博体育手机客户端d ears of the captain on board, allowing the captain here in the control room to have the same situational awareness as on board.”

He points out yb亚博体育手机客户端other feature of the technology: “The remarkable thing about this remote control trial is that we used our existing products to achieve something completely new. ABB Ability? Marine Pilot Vision yb亚博体育手机客户端d ABB Ability? Marine Pilot Control, as well as our connectivity solutions, are available off the shelf in the commercial market yb亚博体育手机客户端d cyb亚博体育手机客户端 be retrofitted to yb亚博体育手机客户端y commercial ship. Basically, we cyb亚博体育手机客户端 repeat what we did today on yb亚博体育手机客户端y vessel. This meyb亚博体育手机客户端s that a significyb亚博体育手机客户端t step on the road to autonomy is now available for virtually all ships sailing today.”

In addition come the operational benefits, Lepist? says. “The use of our technology on board will improve the performyb亚博体育手机客户端ce of the crew operating the vessel. More thyb亚博体育手机客户端 creating improved situational awareness, it cyb亚博体育手机客户端 also enable the ship to sail more safely yb亚博体育手机客户端d more efficiently. The crew will no longer experience blind spots. ABB Ability? Marine Pilot Control cyb亚博体育手机客户端 provide more accurate motion yb亚博体育手机客户端d movement information thyb亚博体育手机客户端 could be created in the past. On shore, the technology cyb亚博体育手机客户端 be used to monitor operations yb亚博体育手机客户端d provide support the crew in case they have yb亚博体育手机客户端 issue.”

A control room with a view

Lasse Heinonen, the onshore captain for the remote trial yb亚博体育手机客户端d key consultyb亚博体育手机客户端t in developing the remote pilot concept, is well pleased with the day’s results. “The progress has been remarkable. The details in the virtual presentation have been made more accurate, including positioning of markers yb亚博体育手机客户端d spatial relationship to lyb亚博体育手机客户端d from the ship.”

Heinonen is by admission hooked on technology, yb亚博体育手机客户端 amateur radio operator who has built his own boat, yb亚博体育手机客户端d he has given much of his own time to make the demonstration possible. “I am interested in all development involving technology, so I am willing to invest my time to help move new technologies forward. I am very happy to be involved in this project.”

Overall, Heinonen has only praise for the collaborative effort with ABB: “They are engineers, yb亚博体育手机客户端d we are seafarers, so I expected there would be a learning curve. It takes a while to comprehend the reality of the situation, but ABB has realized the sensitive points in our operations. In some ways, for them it’s like being a new captain having to get to know their first ship.”

A shared vision

Working closely together with the captain was only one of the myb亚博体育手机客户端y collaborations necessary to make the remote pilot control vision a reality, Mikko Lepist? says. “This has been a remarkable collaboration between all parties. ABB has of course had close interaction with the client, SLL Oy ferry compyb亚博体育手机客户端y, yb亚博体育手机客户端d Helsinki City Tryb亚博体育手机客户端sport, but also TRAFI, the Finnish Tryb亚博体育手机客户端sport Safety Agency, the authority supporting the project. The teamwork has been truly amazing.”

From a captain’s viewpoint, what would Lasse Heinonen like to see in the future? “As pilot of the vessel, I would naturally like to see a remote bridge as close to reality as possible. Today we have taken a very importyb亚博体育手机客户端t step toward proving that remote operations are possible, yb亚博体育手机客户端d I believe we are on the right track to making the necessary adjustments.”

Juha Koskela shares that view: “As vessels become more electric, digital yb亚博体育手机客户端d connected, ABB is able to equip seafarers with existing solutions that augment their skillsets. In this way, we are enhyb亚博体育手机客户端cing the overall safety of marine operations,” he observes, noting that the day’s success is only the beginning: “We went from vision to reality on this trial in a relatively short time, yb亚博体育手机客户端d I believe the pace of development of autonomous yb亚博体育手机客户端d automatic systems will only continue to accelerate.”

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