A six metre long model of the final design of the autonomous and zero emission container vessel “Yara Birkeland” was launched in SINTEF Ocean’s sea laboratory in Trondheim, Norway, on 28 September.
In May, Yara announced the partnership with technology company Kongsberg to build the world’s first electric container ship.
The vessel will be built and put to use late 2018, as part of Yara International’s logistics value chain at the plant in Porsgrunn, Norway. The project is a collaboration between Yara and KongsbergGruppen, a Norwegian technology company.
ABS has confirmed that it plans to join the Unmanned Cargo Ship Development Alliance to work with industry partners, including class organisations, shipyards, equipment manufacturers, surveyors, designers and others to contribute to the advancement of autonomous shipping.
The design will integrate features of independent decision-making, autonomous navigation, environmental perception and remote control.
The general public is well aware of the continuing development of autonomous vehicles. The media constantly provides stories on the advances of these self-driving cars, trucks and cabs. Autonomous vehicles are expected to increase safety while also resulting in significant cost savings in the transportation of goods.
While not receiving the same amount of media coverage, the technology for autonomous ships is also rapidly developing. Earlier this year, a Norwegian partnership announced plans to build the world’s first fully-autonomous containership. The goal is for manned voyages to begin in 2018, with unmanned voyages to begin in 2020.
Rolls-Royce has announced the latest stage in its research and development plans to make remote and autonomous shipping a reality and reap the benefits of increasing digitalisation in the marine industry. The company says it is looking to develop partnerships and opportunities with other organisations around the world to create the capability, competencies and jobs to supply the technology and components required.
Today, the latest part of that programme has been confirmed with the announcement, in Finland, of a significant research grant by Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation. The funding will enable Rolls-Royce to invest further in a research and development centre in Turku, Finland. The company plans to carry out further development projects there focused on the future development of land-based control centres, and the use of artificial intelligence in future remote and autonomous shipping operations.
According to Mike Ford, VP, Commercial Operations, at Wärtsilä Dynamic Positioning, trends are pointing towards harbour tugs being among the first vessel classes to become autonomous.
Mr Ford made the comments at the European Dynamic Positioning Conference in London, citing improvements in safety and lower operating costs through less crew as the reason harbour and terminals are likely to focus on developing autonomous tugs first.