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Finferries' Falco world's first fully autonomous ferry

Rolls-Royce and Finnish state-owned ferry operator Finferries have today successfully demonstrated the world’s first fully autonomous ferry in the archipelago south of the city of Turku, Finland.

 The car ferry Falco, used a combination of Rolls-Royce Ship Intelligence technologies to successfully navigate autonomously during its voyage between Parainen and Nauvo. The return journey was conducted under remote control.

 During the demonstration, the Falco, with 80 invited VIP guests aboard, conducted the voyage under fully autonomous control. The vessel detected objects utilising sensor fusion and artificial intelligence and conducted collision avoidance. It also demonstrated automatic berthing with a recently developed autonomous navigation system. All this was achieved without any human intervention from the crew.

 The Falco is equipped with a range of advanced sensors which allows it to build a detailed picture of its surroundings, in real time and with a level of accuracy beyond that of the human eye. The situational awareness picture is created by fusing sensor data and it is relayed to Finferries’ remote operating centre on land, some 50 kilometres away in Turku city centre. Here, a captain monitors the autonomous operations, and can take control of the vessel if necessary.

 During the autonomous operation tests in Turku archipelago, Rolls-Royce has so far clocked close to 400 hours of sea trials. The Rolls-Royce Autodocking system is among the technologies that has been successfully tested. This feature enables the vessel to automatically alter course and speed when approaching the quay and carry out automatic docking without human intervention. During the sea trials, the collision avoidance solution has also been tested in various conditions for several hours of operation.

 Earlier this year Rolls-Royce and Finferries began collaborating on a new research project called SVAN (Safer Vessel with Autonomous Navigation), to continue implementing the findings from the earlier Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications (AAWA) research project, funded by Business Finland.


Mikael Makinen, Rolls-Royce, President – Commercial Marine, said: “Today marks a huge step forward in the journey towards autonomous shipping and reaffirms exactly what we have been saying for several years, that autonomous shipping will happen. The SVAN project has been a successful collaboration between Rolls-Royce and Finferries and an ideal opportunity to showcase to the world how Ship Intelligence technology can bring great benefits in the safe and efficient operation of ships.

 “This is a very proud moment for all of us and marks our most significant milestone so far. Today’s demonstration proves that the autonomous ship is not just a concept, but something that will transform shipping as we know it.”

 Mats Rosin, Finferries’ CEO, added: “We are very proud that maritime history has been made on the Parainen-Nauvo-route once again. First with our world-renowned hybrid vessel Elektra and now Falco as the world’s first autonomous ferry. As a modern ship-owner our main goal in this cooperation has been on increasing safety in marine traffic as this is beneficial for both the environment and our passengers. But we are also equally excited about how this demonstration opens the door to the new possibilities of autonomous shipping and safety.”

 The Falco is a 53.8 metre double-ended car ferry, which entered service with Finferries in 1993. It is equipped with twin azimuth thrusters from Rolls-Royce.

Elektra receives another international award

Finferries’ hybrid ferry Elektra has won a second international award this year. The Electric & Hybrid Marine World Expo 2018, the world’s largest three-day event showcasing marine propulsion, was held in Amsterdam from 27 to 29 June and culminated in the traditional award ceremony. Finferries was presented with the event’s main award, “Electric & Hybrid Propulsion System of the Year”.

The award is a respected honourable mention given each year by an international panel of experts who judge the utilisation of innovative solutions in a system and the system’s operational reliability.

“For a shipping company of Finferries’ size, it’s unbelievable to receive this much international acclaim for the Elektra hybrid ferry,” says Mats Rosin, CEO of Finferries, of the award.

In spring, the Elektra hybrid ferry was also named ship of the year at another international exhibition in Amsterdam.

“This is yet more proof that our courage to invest in new, environmentally friendly technology was the right decision. Many parties were involved in the design of Elektra’s innovative power system.[K1] Special thanks go to Siemens, Rolls-Royce and the CRIST S.A. shipyard, and to the Finferries project group who worked with Elektra,” says Technical Director Mikko Jukakoski, who received the award on Finferries’ behalf in Amsterdam.

The Elektra hybrid ferry has operated along the route between Parainen and Nauvo since last June. Elektra’s transport capacity is 40% larger than that of the older vessel which operates along the route, but Elektra generates 60% fewer emissions. Elektra’s energy is primarily sourced from battery packs which are charged at each side of the crossing using a shore-based connection to the local grid. Diesel electricity is used alongside the battery packs as a back-up, which can be used in very icy conditions or in the event of a power outage, for example.

Finferries joins the innovative autonomous Maritime Ecosystem

Finferries, the market leader in ferry and commuter ferry operations in Finland, joins One Sea Ecosystem. The company aims to introduce autonomous technologies into their operations. By joining One Sea, Finferries become partners with the forerunners of maritime autonomy. The DIMECC led ecosystem is happy to welcome the new partner with invaluable experience in maritime traffic to the ecosystem.

Finferries operates in coastal and inland waterways of Finland providing ferry and commuter ferry transportation serving annually 10 million customers and 4 million vehicles. Finferries’ goal is to modernize their fleet. A part of that work is incorporating latest technologies on their newbuildings, as well as their existing fleet. The technologies are expected to increase the safety of the passengers, as well as ensure the best possible services to the customers living in remote locations accessible only by ferries. The focus is also heavily on developing the concept of clean shipping.
“As a modern ferry operator joining the One Sea Ecosystem was the next natural step for Finferries. We were the first to bring an environmentally friendly battery hybrid ferry to Finland and our vessels have also been used as a test environment in the AAWA-project. We are proud to take part in collaborations where cutting-edge technology is utilized to improve the safety and sustainability in maritime operations”, says Mats Rosin, the CEO of Finferries.
Chairman of the One Sea Management Board, Mr. Sauli Eloranta is thrilled about the new ecosystem members. “The new partner brings in a new dimension to the ecosystem, representing business areas that are crucial for the ecosystem. It is vital to have ship owner’s perspective within the ecosystem work.
The One Sea ecosystem, founded in 2016, represents exceptionally advanced co-creation where global leaders in their industries work to reach their joint goal of autonomous traffic. The founding partners in the One Sea – Autonomous Maritime Ecosystem are: ABB, Cargotec (MacGregor and Kalmar), Ericsson, Meyer Turku, Rolls-Royce, Tieto and Wärtsilä. The association of Finnish Marine Industries supports the work, and the Finnish funding agency TEKES has invested in the ecosystem. The leader of One Sea is DIMECC.

The Minister of Transport and Communications christened Finland’s first electric ferry

Finferries’ new ferry, Elektra, was named today, 29 May, at River Aura in Turku. Invited guests and media were present at the christening ceremony. The traditional christening was performed by the vessel’s godmother, Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner.

“It is a great honour to have Minister of Transport and Communications Berner as godmother of our largely electrically-powered vessel. This confirms that our investment in a new environmentally friendly technology is appreciated,” says Mats Rosin, CEO of Finferries.

Elektra’s power source consists primarily of batteries that are charged with shore power each time the vessel calls to port. In addition to the batteries, the ferry runs on back-up diesel power that can be put to use in such circumstances as challenging ice conditions or in the case of a power cut. The design criteria have emphasised operational reliability, which results in a ferry that has the latest technology and produces a high-quality basic service.

The construction on the Elektra began in April last year at the Polish CRIST S.A. shipyard. Finferries is pleased with the cooperation with the vessel’s supplier. The finish on the car deck details alone is enough to demonstrate that the shipyard has maintained a high level of quality in its work.

The modern technology required of the electric ferry was provided by Siemens.

“It was safe to invest in new technology with a cooperative partner that already presented proof of a functioning electric ferry,” states Mats Rosin, referring to the electric ferry Ampere that traffics Norway and whose technology also comes from Siemens.

The electrically powered hybrid ferry is considerably larger than previous road ferries. Elektra measures 97.92 metres long and 15.20 metres wide and has a capacity for 90 passenger cars. Traffic along the Parainen–Nauvo route will begin in June 2017. The arrival of the new vessel will not affect the timetables for the route.

Finferries welcomes everyone aboard on its new generation vessel!

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