World's first autonomous ship!

The world’s first autonomous and fully electric container ship scheduled to launch in 2018.

“Yara Birkeland” is a collaboration between the Norwegian technology group Kongsberg and chemical company Yara. The ship is named after the Norwegian scientist and founder of Yara, Kristian Birkeland.

The ship will travel between the fertilizer plant at Porsgrunn and the ports of Brevik and Larvik. By doing so, it will replace 40 000 journeys of diesel-powered trucks a year, which will reduce CO2 emissions by 700 tons. The final design of “Yara Birkeland” was revealed at a successful model testing at Sintef Ocean in Trondheim last week. The ship is due to be launched in late 2018 or 2019. At first, it will be manned by a small crew, until 2020 when it’s scheduled to be operating completely autonomous.

It’s a huge and innovative project costing around 25 million dollars. Other companies such as DNV GL, Marin Teknikk, Sintef Ocean and the Norwegian maritime authorities are also involved in the project. Developing advanced sensors and control and communication systems are some of the project’s key areas. Because of maritime law, it’s also important to cooperate with the maritime authorities with legislation governing crewless vessels, to even be allowed to launch the ship.

The project “Yara Birkeland” would not be a reality without the combination of innovative industry and advanced maritime technology. It’s likely to believe that because of this project, Norwegian shipping and maritime industry can take new international positions based on new knowledge and technology, as well as their focus on being environmental friendly. As Geir Håøy, President and CEO of Kongsberg said: “This vessel is important for the entire maritime industry. […] It’s a start of a major contribution to fulfilling national and internation environmental impact goals, and will be a global milestone for seaborn transportation.”