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World’s first autonomous electric ship

Jan 16, 2018
The world’s first autonomous electric container ship, Yara Birkeland is due to begin operating in the latter half of 2018 according to its Norwegian builders Kongsberg.

The ship was commissioned by fertiliser manufacture Yara and was named after the company’s founder, the famous scientist and innovator Kristian Birkeland. The new vessel will reduce NOx and CO2 emissions and improve road safety by removing up to 40,000 truck journeys in populated urban areas when it begins shipping products from Yara's production plant in Porsgrunn, to Brevik and Larvik in Norway. The Yara Birkeland will be a 120TEU, open top container ship, battery powered and prepared for autonomous and unmanned operation.

Yara Birkeland will initially operate as a manned vessel, moving to remote operation in 2019. It is 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.

Kongsberg was 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 Konsberg 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."

Photo: A six-metre-long, 2.4-tonne model of Yara Birkeland on test at SINTEF Ocean's 80 metre test tank facility in Trondheim, Norway.


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