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Self-Driving Ship to Set Sail in 2018

Friday, August 4, 2017

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The world’s first autonomous ship is slated to set sail along Norway’s coastline in 2018, carrying cargo between Norwegian towns.

Masterminded and developed by both chemical expert YARA (Oslo, Norway) and aerospace company Kongsberg (Kongsberg, Norway), the autonomous, zero-emissions container feeder ship is set to embark on its maiden voyage sometime next year.

The Earth-friendly Option

According to YARA, the ship is projected to cut down on 40,000 journeys made by load-bearing trucks per year, in the process cutting pollution from entering the atmosphere.


Unlike the companies’ lofty goals for the endeavor, however, the ship’s first voyage will be to transport fertilizer from YARA's plant In Porsgrunn to ports in Brevik and Larvik.

“Every day, more than 100 diesel truck journeys are needed to transport products from YARA's Porsgrunn plant to ports in Brevik and Larvik where we ship products to customers around the world,” said Svein Tore Holsether, president and CEO of YARA, in a statement.

“With this new autonomous battery-driven container vessel we move transport from road to sea and thereby reduce noise and dust emissions, improve the safety of local roads and reduce NOx and CO2 emissions.”

Both companies believe that the zero-emissions ship will be a game-changer for maritime transportation, noted Dezeen. Unlike the companies’ lofty goals for the endeavor, however, the ship’s first voyage will be to transport fertilizer from YARA's plant In Porsgrunn to ports in Brevik and Larvik.

Marine Transportation

According to the International Maritime Organization, over 90 percent of the world’s trade is carried by sea, and in terms of cost-efficiency, it’s the way to go.

According to YARA, the vessel’s first foray into the world’s waters will be manned, but, as time goes on, adjustments and upgrades will be made so that the ship will be fully autonomous by 2020. Named after YARA's founder—Kristian Birkeland—the YARABirkeland will be the flagship in the ongoing endeavor to meet maritime transportation sustainability goals.

To get its bearings, the YARA Birkeland will use radar, GPS, cameras and sensors in order to navigate. The ship will use electric drive, battery and propulsion control systems.

In total, the boat will cost $25 million, which, according to Dezeen, runs three times as much as a same-size traditional container ship. But as soon as the vessel embarks, the operator will begin saving money, in the form of labor and fuel costs.

World Firsts and Rolls Royce

Even though both companies claim that this is a world-first, Rolls-Royce announced its own plans for creating an autonomous ship back in 2014.

The Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative—known as AAWA—is a project that combines top maritime manufacturers with researchers in Finland to work on making remote and autonomous shipping a reality, sooner than later. Rolls-Royce predicts the technology will be in use by the end of this decade.


Tagged categories: Marine; Ships and vessels; Transportation

Comment from M. Halliwell, (8/4/2017, 11:06 AM)

RR may have announced first, but it sounds like Yara will beat them to having propellers in the water, so to speak.

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