Falco: The world's first autonomous ferry

Published: Thursday, January 17, 2019

FINLAND: Using sensors, cameras and Rolls- Royce intelligence technologies, Falco successfully crossed the waters off Turku, Finland last month, unmanned, becoming the world’s first autonomous ferry.

The return to the shore of the 53.8-meter double-ended car ferry equipped with twin azimuth thrusters from Rolls-Royce was even more astonishing with only a remote control used to navigate its voyage.

Rolls-Royce and Finferries, which acquired the ferry in 1993, began collaborating on a new research project called SVAN (Safer Vessel with Autonomous Navigation), to continue implementing the findings from the earlier
Advanced Autonomous Water borne Applications (AAWA) research project, funded by Business Finland.

Mikael Makinen, Rolls-Royce, President Commercial Marine, said Falco’s success is “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.”

“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,” he added.

Mats Rosin, Finferries CEO, says history was made in the maritime industry with Falco’s launch which had some 80 VIP guests aboard.

“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 & safety,” said Rosin in a statement.