Ferry without a captain
Folgefonn. © capt.ilc.
There’s a lot of talk about self-driving cars, but the revolution has also spread to other modes of transport. In Norway, the Folgefonn, an 85-meter ferry belonging to the Norled company, autonomously sailed to three different ports of call. All maneuvers, including the approach and docking, were accomplished without human intervention, which is a worldwide first for a vessel of this size. The operator simply selected the “Sail” command, which authorized computers to take the vessel on a preestablished route with waypoints. The test was conducted by the Finnish tech group Wärtsilä under the supervision of the Norwegian Maritime Authority. This system doesn’t take away the need to have humans on watch aboard ship for safety reasons, or that of having personnel in the machine room. Other companies such as the Norwegian consortium Kongsberg are working on container-shipping projects that would navigate autonomously with electrical propulsion. They could revolutionize the transport of goods if they can demonstrate their performance and safety.