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Autonomous Vehicles

Published on September 30th, 2017 | by James Ayre

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Final Design Of Autonomous, All-Electric Container Vessel — Yara Birkeland — Revealed

September 30th, 2017 by  


The final design of the all-electric, autonomous container ship known as the Yara Birkeland has now been completed, and testing has commenced at SINTEF Ocean’s 80 metre test tank facility in Trondheim, Norway.

Accompanying this announcement, the Norwegian government enterprise known as ENOVA revealed that it will be providing support to the project in the form of a NOK 133 million ($16.7 million) financial contribution.

While a full-scale version of the new design has yet to be revealed (obviously), the recent announcement was accompanied by the reveal of a 6-meter long, 2.4-ton model. The ship itself is expected to be delivered and to begin testing and operations in early 2019, with fully autonomous functioning expected to begin in 2020.

Once in operation, the Yara Birkeland will displace the equivalent of 40,000 semi truck trips from Yara’s Porsgrunn fertiliser plant in southern Norway to the ports of Brevik and Larvik — and will thus curtail substantial greenhouse gas emissions.

The press release provides more: “Following the announcement in May, the vessel has been designed at Norwegian design and engineering company Marin Teknikk. A cutting edge six meter long and 2.4 tons model of the final design using technology destined for the real ship, including a fully working thruster system from KONGSBERG, will now undergo comprehensive testing at SINTEF Ocean before construction of the full-scale vessel starts. The decision of where the vessel is to be built will be decided and disclosed by the end of 2017.”

The President and CEO of KONGSBERG, Geir Håøy, commented on the news: “Initial tests of the model were successful, proving both concept and the technology. The testing at SINTEF Ocean marks an important milestone in the development. This vessel is important for the entire maritime industry, and Yara deserves praise for their initiative and commitment. Yara Birkeland is the start of a major contribution to fulfilling national and international environmental impact goals, and will be a global milestone for seaborne transportation.”

KONGSBERG itself will be providing the Yara Birkeland’s electric drive, battery systems, propulsion control systems, and autonomous system sensors.


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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.



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