First ship – Yara Birkeand – to sail without a single human on board will embark on its first journey in 2018, delivering fertilizer along a 37-mile route in southern Norway.
The Norwegian-built ship will use radars, sensors, cameras and GPS to navigate itself and dock on its own.
First roboship to set on its maiden voyage in 2018
Norway based agricultural firm Yara International, along with the guidance system maker Konsberg, have been developing this first zero-emission, electric-powered, autonomous ship which is deemed an ‘innovation to protect our planet.’ The goal is to reduce the carbon emissions and decrease road traffic.
Svein Tore Holsether, President and CEO of YARA, said:
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.
Geir Håøy, President and CEO of Kongsber, further added:
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.
Yara Birkeland will cost three times that of a normal ship of the same size, billing a hefty $25 million to its makers. However, it is said that with the elimination of fuel costs and crew, the annual operation costs will reduce by up to 90%. Not a bad deal.
Yara Birkeland will be a manned vessel in 2018 but fully autonomous by the year 2020
The ship with the capacity of 100 to 150 shipping containers, will be operated by the on board crew in the year 2018. It will operate remotely in the year 2019 and will become fully autonomous and self-guided by the year 2020.
Yara Birkeland could be the lifeline for the global shipping industry, which has spent years struggling with overcapacity and falling rates
The rules governing autonomous ships are expected to be applicable by then. After that, the company plans to build more autonomous ships that could be set on the longer routes.
“Maybe even move our fertilizer from Holland all the way to Brazil,” states the Yara International in a its press release.