Rolls-Royce and Finnish state-owned ferry operator Finferries have successfully developed and demonstrated the world's first fully autonomous ferry, Falco.
The car ferry conducted a voyage under fully autonomous control in the archipelago south of the Finnish city of Turku. The Falco used a combination of Rolls-Royce Ship Intelligence technologies to navigate the 80 VIP guests on board between Parainen and Nauvo.
The Falco uses a range of advanced sensors allowing it to build a detailed picture of its surroundings in real time and with greater accuracy than the human eye and, therefore, can conduct effective collision avoidance. It creates a situational awareness picture by fusing sensor data which is relayed to Finferries' remote operating center on land, 50km away, where the captain monitors the autonomous operations.
The vessel also successfully demonstrated automatic berthing using a recently developed autonomous navigation system without any human intervention.
The 53.8-meter double-ended car ferry entered service with Finferries in 1993 and has been equipped with twin azimuth thrusters provided by Rolls-Royce.
Following the voyage, Mikael Makinen, Rolls-Royce president of 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."
He added: "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," Makinen concluded.