Wärtsilä SmartDock

Wärtsilä SmartDock provides automated docking and undocking for ferries and other vessels on repeated itineraries. By providing consistent and repeatable docking, the system enhances the capabilities of the crew, increases safety, reduces fuel consumption and vessel wear and tear.

SmartDock is the world’s first market-ready step towards realizing the full potential of vessel autonomy through the provision of docking sensors, dynamic positioning and automation technology for seamless, hands-off mooring operation.            

Smartdock monitoring

Once configured in the system, the approach and departure from the same berth becomes repeatable.  The system automatically follows the same track of waypoints.

This results in safer, repeatable docking sequences that are on par with the work of the most astute captain on a good day.

The intuitive task-focused UX makes for easy human-computer interaction and manual intervention.

SmartDock reduces mooring time allowing for focus on other tasks at hand.

Efficiency and safety are of paramount importance. By automating docking procedures, the Wärtsilä SmartDock system mitigates potential human errors resulting from ship officers having to perform these technical manoeuvres many times a day. This is especially important on, for example, larger ferries that must enter and leave tight docking spaces, where significant damage can be caused by forceful collisions with the dock walls.

Following rigorous, successful testing of the SmartDock auto-docking solution together with partners and customers, Wärtsilä has secured the first orders for the system.

The Wärtsilä SmartDock solution is the culmination of decades of extensive research and testing by Wärtsilä in automation technology. 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
Joonas Makkonen, Vice President, Voyage Solutions, Wärtsilä
Joonas Makkonen

Wärtsilä SmartDock – now commercially available for autonomous dock to dock voyages

The successful sea trials were carried out onboard the ‘Folgefonn’, an 85 metre long ferry owned by Norwegian operator Norled. The testing also included operating the automatic 180-degree rotational turn of the vessel, as well as Wärtsilä Guidance Marine’s CyScan AS with GeoLock technology, a crucial cyber-security enhancing secondary position sensor, which enables the approach to the berth to continue even if the GPS signal is lost.

We continue to be impressed with the Wärtsilä SmartDock system, which is unique in that it works hand-in-hand with the captain to ensure the best performance on every docking, every day. It’s the perfect collaboration between an experienced crew and technology.
Inge Andre Utåker, Regional director, Norled

Rigorous testing, prototyping and simulations – 

Led by Wärtsilä Marine and its Dynamic Positioning Inc. subsidiary in San Diego, California, the prototype auto-docking system was successfully tested on the Norwegian ro-ro passenger ship Folgefonn, first out in the open water on a simulated dock in January 2018, and then again in Stord harbour, Norway, in April 2018.

Extensive testing of the system was key to making the ship’s environmental sensors interface with software to precisely control the ship’s propulsion systems. This work - sequencing and calibrating thrusters, for example, and developing a user interface - is what makes Wärtsilä Dynamic Positioning a leader in the field.

The procedure meant that the system was activated some 2000 metres from the berth and the vessel continued at normal transit speed. The system then performed a gradual slowing of speed, and automatically activated the line-up and docking manoeuvre until the ship was secured at the berth. When the ship was ready to sail again, the system was used for the departure procedure in an identical but reverse manner.

Full manoeuvring of the vessel, including the steerage and propulsion, was automatically controlled by the software. However, manual intervention and control was possible at any time. The automatic function allowed the ship’s officers to focus on situational awareness outside the wheelhouse, thereby improving the safety and reliability of operations.

Wärtsilä’s auto-docking technology delivers notable benefits to operators. These include improved safety since there is less likelihood of human error; less wear and tear since the thrusters are efficiently utilised; and greater efficiency in docking which allows for more time at berth.

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Experience 360 degrees of real autonomous operations! In November 2018, Wärtsilä successfully tested its automated dock-to-dock solution, with uninterrupted, independent operations throughout the voyage.

Wärtsilä’s vision of a Smart Marine ecosystem

Wärtsilä SmartDock represents an important element within Wärtsilä’s overall Smart Marine vision as the corporation seeks to enhance safety, boost efficiency and abate the environmental impact of shipping through the use of connectivity and digitalisation. 
The world is moving towards a future that is more and more connected, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the shipping sector. The opportunities offered through smart technology will foster a new era of collaboration and knowledge sharing with customers, suppliers and partners.
Roger Holm, President, Marine Business, Wärtsilä
Roger Holm


The world’s first auto-docking system

Wärtsilä's SmartDock is the world’s first commercially available auto-docking solution.
3 June 2019
  • Press release

Auto-docking - a giant leap for merchant...

Along the coast of Norway, science-fiction meets reality as Wärtsilä tests its new auto-docking solution...
21 February 2019
  • Twentyfour7. article

Auto-docking ferry successfully tested...

The combination of auto-docking and wireless charging on a ferry, a world first, could make things a...
27 April 2018
  • Twentyfour7. article

Press releases


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