Watch: World’s First Autonomous Containership


The world's first fully electric and autonomous containership with zero emissions is set to start operations in the latter half of 2018.

It's being developed through a partnership between technology developer Kongsberg and Yara.

Yara, a company that aims to improve farmers’, distributors’ and industrial customers’ profitably, will use the vessel for its operations and has chosen to name it ‘Yara Birkeland’ after Yara's founder Kristian Birkeland.

Yara's new vessel will reduce NOx and CO2 emissions and improve road safety by removing up to 40,000 truck journeys in populated urban areas.

It will initially operate as a manned vessel, moving to remote operation in 2019 and expected to be capable of performing fully autonomous operations from 2020.

The new zero-emission vessel will be a game-changer for global maritime transport contributing to meet the UN sustainability goals.

Svein Tore Holsether, President and CEO of Yara, said: “As a leading global fertilizer company with a mission to feed the world and protect the planet, investing in this zero emission vessel to transport our crop nutrition solutions fits our strategy well.

“We are proud to work with KONGSBERG to realize the world's first autonomous, all-electric vessel to enter commercial operation.

“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.

“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.”

Kongsberg is responsible for development and delivery of all key enabling technologies on Yara Birkeland including the sensors and integration required for remote and autonomous operations, in addition to the electric drive, battery and propulsion control systems.

Geir Håøy, President and CEO of Kongsberg, said: “By moving container transport from land to sea, Yara Birkeland is the start of a major contribution to fulfilling national and international environmental impact goals.

The new concept is also a giant step forward towards increased seaborne transportation in general.”

As a leading global maritime technology company, Kongsberg's integrated control and monitoring systems are already capable of providing technology for remote and unmanned operations.

Håøy said: “Developing systems for autonomous operations is a major opening and natural step for Kongsberg, considering our decades of expertise in the development and integration of advanced sensors, control and communication systems for all areas of ship operations.

“Yara Birkeland will set the benchmark for the application of innovative maritime technology for more efficient and environmentally friendly shipping.”

Simwave recently chose Kongsberg as its sole simulation supplier and partner for a new ‘state-of-the-art’ facility designed to deliver maritime simulation as a service.

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