Wärtsilä partners with Microsoft to enable future tech for ship autonomy, emissions reduction

Wärtsilä Voyage, part of Finnish technology company Wärtsilä, has entered into a strategic partnership with US technology corporation Microsoft.

Photo: Wärtsilä

Wärtsilä Voyage, which provides maritime end-to-end onboard solutions, plans to accelerate its efforts towards industrialising the Internet of Things (IoT) for shipping through a highly scalable cyber-secure platform. This is planned to be achieved through an integration with Microsoft Azure IoT Edge.

As explained, the Wärtsilä platform will help the company and its partners deploy digital solutions to the market faster and more easily.

The streamlined Intelligent Edge technology is seen as “an essential enabler” to meet the industry’s decarbonisation targets as well as large-scale application of autonomous technology.

Specifically, Wärtsilä Voyage, in partnership with Microsoft, aims to reinforce the synergies within its end-to-end digital services portfolio and bring all its current and future products on a common platform, enabling faster deployment and easier maintenance of all Wärtsilä Voyage technologies and software.

“The maritime world is entering the digital era where mutualising our investments into common platforms and standards are a prerequisite to successful innovations for a more sustainable and efficient maritime industry,” Sean Fernback, President, Wärtsilä Voyage and Executive Vice President, Wärtsilä, commented.

“The Wärtsilä common platform will act as an enabler to deploy future technology for autonomy and emissions reduction. We want to focus our efforts on those fields with commonly shared standards that give vessels easier access to innovative solutions.”

Wärtsilä Voyage will also focus on strategic themes spanning industrial remote operation capabilities, cybersecurity with active monitoring, runtime, and commonly shared data standards to ease collaboration between maritime stakeholders.

“The same way smartphone and some automobile manufacturers are able to update, deploy new features, and improve their systems remotely, the new generation of digital ships needs to constantly adapt, update to keep up with their evolving ecosystems while staying cyber secure at all times,” Pierre Guillemin, Vice President, Technology Office, Wärtsilä Voyage, said.

Through its secured-by-design remote operation capabilities, the Wärtsilä platform will enable immediate access to the latest solutions onboard. Asset commissioning, diagnostic, updates, and upgrades will be performed remotely — streamlining maintenance, speeding up deployment, and increasing vessel uptime.

The Finnish company will also integrate several Microsoft Security and IoT solutions to strengthen the platform with monitoring, security updates and asset management services.

“Wärtsilä Voyage is innovating with solutions that reduce carbon emissions and enhance autonomous shipping. Its vision of the secure and connected vessel will be anchored by Microsoft IoT Edge and Security solutions. We look forward to help drive this significant step in the industry’s transformation,” Ralph Haupter, President of Microsoft EMEA, said.

With this, Wärtsilä Voyage will accelerate its efforts towards building an open development environment with standardised data formats and APIs that reduce fragmentation, integrate systems to reduce the complexity of digital services lifecycle, and have multi-layered cybersecurity built into every smart ship and maritime ecosystem solution.

“There is a need to reinforce and scale what has already been developed in specific segments of the industry, for instance, in the cruise business where sensor systems are already widely integrated,” Guillemin added.

“Digital systems essential for vessel autonomy, such as extending existing sensor technologies, require a paradigm shift in processing power and integration to enable the next generation of autonomous vessel systems,” Guillemin explained.

“Wärtsilä Voyage’s long experience in machine learning, for instance, gained through the development of vessel optimization systems and flagship autonomous projects such as Intellitug, help us in scaling integration capabilities across the maritime industry.”

Last month, Wärtsilä Voyage also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) to collaborate on smart port innovation and digitalisation.