The world's first fully autonomous, electric cargo ship will set sail for its first commercial operation later this year. Its success could transform the shipping industry, which is highly polluting today.
Is called Yara Birkeland and will travel between two Norwegian cities (Herøya and Brevik) with no crew on board, carrying goods that would normally be transported by land.
It will replace 40.000 trips of trucks per year, according to its operators, as well as significantly reducing nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide emissions.
The first "robot" ship cargo to the world: no crew
The Yara Birkeland represents a huge step forward for the entire maritime industry and an important technological and sustainable advance.Geir Håøy, CEO of the tech company Kongsberg, responsible for the autonomous operations of the cargo ship.
According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the shipping industry
it creates between 2 and 3% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions, but it is vital to the global economy. More than 90% of all trade occurs by sea, with more than 90.000 ships crossing the oceans each year.
The expedition was not included in the 2015 Paris climate agreement, but in 2018, IMO countries pledged to reduce carbon emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 levels. Yara Birkeland say this cargo ship will eventually "change the world of shipping".
Yara Birkeland is not the first autonomous ship (a self-steering passenger ferry launched in Finland in 2018) but it is the first fully autonomous cargo ship, as well as the first 100% electric. A massive one 7 MWh battery powers the thrusters capable of delivering a maximum speed of 13 knots (24km / h or 15 mph), while the hold is capable of carrying up to 60 containers.
The ship was originally scheduled to begin commercial operations last year but was delayed by the pandemic. Today, operators can say with satisfaction that by the end of 2021 a new cargo ship will depart, and perhaps a new era.