The world’s first autonomous electric cargo ship has completed its maiden voyage

While the focus is on the car, the truth is that there are many other scenarios in which autonomous electric vehicles may be more necessary and efficient. Examples include shipping companies that have been using predetermined routes for years, have roughly the same methods for all flights, and can transfer many of these skills to autonomous navigation technology. The proof is there and the world’s first autonomous electric cargo ship has just completed its maiden voyage.

This technological advance will save 1,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per year.

The ship still has a bridge, but only to observe the behavior

It's called the Yara Birkeland and it's the world's first fully electric, zero-emission container ship. The ship made its maiden voyage in Norway. Birkeland traveled 14 kilometers from Bursgrunn to Port Brevik, according to a Press release Sent by its makers, Yura.

Although it seems like a short trip, as a large producer of fertilizer, Yara makes approximately 40,000 truck trips per year to transport her produce to the port of Brevik for export. The container ship will replace truck cruises from next year.

Thus, this change in transport strategy should reduce 1,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per year.

Work on the 80 m electric container ship started in early 2017, as we know it. It is designed to carry 103 containers in a single flight.

The Birkeland is powered by a 7 megawatt hour battery and can travel at a maximum speed of 15 knots. Financial support for the construction of the first cargo ship of this type came from Enova, a Norwegian state-owned company that promotes the use of renewable energies.

Enova donated 133 million Norwegian crowns (around 13.25 million euros) to build Birkeland, which can travel alone.

Crossing the sea without commanding humans is a reality

The vessel has a wide range of autonomous navigation technologies. It has sensors that can detect things like a water kayak, icebergs, and other obstacles. All of these integrations are provided to stand-alone operations by Kongsberg.

In the future, the company said, the ship will be able to load and unload its cargo, charge its battery and move without any human intervention. From next year, the container ship will make two trips per week with a manual crew. Autonomous navigation technology will be tested for two years, after which the ship will be certified as autonomous and the deck will be removed from the ship.

In addition to eliminating transport emissions, Yara, one of Norway's biggest sources of carbon emissions, also plans to produce green ammonia. As a fertilizer producer, Yara needs significant amounts of ammonia, the production of which contributes just over 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to Yara's press release.

The fertilizer company also wants to use this green ammonia as fuel for ships.

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