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Robots to connect vessels to shore power

ABB will supply power and propulsion systems for two battery powered ferries that includes a robot for connecting the vessels to shore power.

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The ABB equipment will fitted to two ferries operated by HH Ferries Group, the Tycho Brahe and Aurora, which will become the world’s largest emission-free electric ferries. They will operate between Helsingør (Denmark) and Helsingborg (Sweden), a distance of approximately 4 km carrying more than 7.4 Million passengers and 1.9 million vehicles annually. The combined battery power of the two ferries is 8,320 kWh.

ABB will supply turnkey solutions including: batteries, an energy storage control system and Onboard DC Grid technology. At both ends of the route ABB will supply its own connection system, which is calling “the first automated shore-side charging stations using an ABB industrial robot, to optimize the connection time and therefore maximize the charging period”.

The robot that will connect the vessel is the ABB IRB 7600, which was first introduced in 2001. “All pre-docking procedures are based on 3D laser scanning and wireless communication between ship and shore. During the last 400 mm of the ferry’s approach the robot will reach out and pull the shore cable from the ship. The cable reel releases the cable and the robot moves the connectors to the corresponding connectors below the robot. After the connection is made, the robot moves back to the home-position and the roll-up doors closes. The robot will reside inside its own building when not in use,” ABB stated.

This is believed to be the first use of this type of robot in a port application, and raises questions about what other types of work robots could do. Robots could also plug in reefer containers, or remove twistlocks, for example.

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