He May Not Have Received His Nobel Prizes But The World's First Fully Electric Autonomous Container Ship Will Be Called the Birkeland
Last month Norway and Yara celebrated the 150th anniversary of the birth of the company's co-founder: "The Birkeland Anniversary 2017".
And here's the latest from the Wall Street Journal:
OSLO—Two Norwegian companies are taking the lead in the race to build the world’s first crewless, autonomously operated ship, an advance that could mark a turning point in seaborne trade.Just as long as the big blue boat doesn't become pirate-bait.
Dubbed by shipping executives the “Tesla of the Seas,” the Yara Birkeland now under development is scheduled in late 2018 to start sailing fertilizer 37 miles down a fiord from a production facility to the port of Larvik. Using the Global Positioning System, radar, cameras and sensors, the electric ship is designed to navigate itself around other boat traffic and to dock on its own.
The vessel will cost $25 million, about three times as much as a conventional container ship of its size, but its backers say without need for fuel or crew it promises to cut annual operating costs by up to 90%. The 100-container ship is scheduled to be in the water toward the end of next year, though initially it will be tested with a human at the controls.
The Birkeland is being jointly developed by agriculture firm Yara International ASA and Kongsberg Gruppen AS A, which builds guidance systems for civilian and military uses.
Petter Ostbo, Yara’s head of production who leads the project, said the company would look to invest in bigger ships and use them for longer routes once international regulations are in place for crewless vessels. “Maybe even move our fertilizer from Holland all the way to Brazil,” he said.
The International Maritime Organization, which regulates maritime travel, doesn’t expect legislation governing crewless ships to be in place before 2020.
Shipping executives say autonomous vessels will be popular for short sea routes, but doubt they will replace oceangoing ships that move thousands of containers across continents with an average crew size of around 25.
“It’s not a matter of technology, which is already there, but a business case,” said Lars Jensen, chief executive of SeaIntelligence Consulting in Copenhagen. “Autonomous ships are expensive to begin with, and have to be built very robust, because if they break down, the cost of getting a team to fix them it in the middle of the ocean will be very high.”...MUCH MORE
I'd watch for raiding parties out of Denmark.