Self-driving cars and electric vehicles make headlines every now and then. However, a self-driving electric container ship is something that has not been much heard of. Container ships are very common and making them autonomous and electric will have the same effect as the cars have.
A Norwegian company Yara has teamed up with the maritime technology company Kongsberg to build the world’s first self-driving electric container ship. This ship is set to sail in 2018. The container ship is named Yara Birkeland and will carry chemicals and fertilizers from Yara’s Prosgrunn production plant to the towns of Brevik and Larvik.
The ship will be manned in the beginning and shift to remote operation in 2019 before it achieves complete autonomy in 2020. This will result in a cleaner journey that required 40,000 truck journeys previously and will result in a major reduction of NOx and CO2 emissions.
“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,” says Svein Tore Holsether, President, and CEO of YARA.
There are still some hurdles that need to be overcome before completely autonomous shipping can be introduced, and Norway is among the leaders working to overcome these hurdles together with The Norwegian Maritime Authority and the Norwegian Coastal Administration. They signed an agreement the year before making Trondheim Fjord, the world’s first autonomous ship testing area.
Recently, Rolls Royce proposed something similar where robotic ships with no docks will be remotely operated by a team on shore. This will result in more efficient transport as it will eliminate the need for extra cabins and decks for humans.
Even though a self-driving electric container ship has not been seen before, this launch by Yara next year is a start of something new and we will see others follow suit.
You can see the benefits of the ship in the video below: