Multi-million pound simulator built in Lisburn to develop zero-emissions ferries

A multi-million pound simulator has been built in Lisburn as part of a project to develop a world first green energy ferry.

Normally the marine simulator is used to train sailing teams.

But now, Artemis Technologies is leading a world first project to develop a new class of zero-emission high speed vessels, using a foiling system that effectively lifts the vessel out of the water.

The ultimate aim is to build a ferry that can carry 300 passengers between Belfast and Bangor.

Computer generated image of what the high speed vessel could look like Credit: Company image

The company will use the mHIL simulator to streamline the development process and prototyping of the company’s Artemis eFoilerTM electric propulsion system and new green high-speed vessels, targeting the ferry and workboat markets. Double Olympic champion Dr Iain Percy OBE, CEO of Artemis Technologies, revealed the installation of the simulator ahead of the upcoming world-famous America’s Cup yacht race, of which he is a four-time veteran.

Iain Percy says the simulator is the "most advanced of its kind."

"We originally built the simulator for Artemis Racing taking part in the America’s Cup, and are hugely excited to bring this incredible technology to Northern Ireland," Iain said. “Behind the device is all our collective learning, over 10 years and hundreds of millions of pounds in investment, learning about the marine environment and how vessels operate in that environment. “The result is when we want to test something new, like a zero-emission vessel, we can confidently do that.”

The mHIL simulator features a 4.5 metre high, 210 degree screen, which conveys images from three laser phosphor projectors, wrapped around a physical platform similar to those used for flight and motorsport simulators, providing an immersive experience.

The team behind the project is growing in force with the number of people working on the simulator expected to treble to 70.

The simulator features a 210 degree screen to allow a realistic view of what it would like to be on a high speed vessel. Credit: UTV

Soon the workforce will be moving to a site near Belfast Harbour, with hopes of transforming their ideas from a screen onto water.

In the meantime, the mHIL simulator will continue to be used by high-performance professional sailing teams from across the world and is expected to attract interest from the commercial maritime sector.

Iain added: “It’s going to bring in a lot of interest from outside and a lot of commercial activity. When you have a piece of equipment that gives such an accurate representation of the marine environment, other companies will want to test their own ideas.”