Engineering Headlines

Norwegians build an autonomous electric container ship

Competition against Rolls-Royce

As early as 2020, an unusual ship is set to sail in Norway: the Birkeland , a container ship that is driven electrically and autonomously.

It could be a world champion. Unless Rolls-Royce comes before the Norwegians.

In Norway there is a fertilizer producer named Yara, which needs 40,000 truck trips every year to transport chemicals and fertilizer from the production plant in Porsgrunn to the port in Brevik.

From there Yara sends the products to customers all over the world.

The problem: the diesel trucks drive past small idyllic villages and towns on the 15 km short route, pollute the air and make noise.

Yara does not want this either to the environment or to the citizens or longer and therefore develops together with Kongsberg, a supplier for ship and offshore electronics, an electric boat.

The Birkeland is to be the first fully electric and self-propelled container ship.

“With this autonomous, battery-powered container ship, we are moving from road to sea, reducing noise, NOx and CO2 emissions and increasing safety on local roads,” says Yara’s CEO Svein Tore Holsether.

In 2020 the Birkeland is to drive autonomously the container ship exists so far only in the computer.

First illustrations show a blue 70 m long ship, which offers space for around 100 containers and manages without a driver’s cab.

At the stern is a bridge with antennas, IR camera and Lidar system, which supplies the enterprise Kongsberg.

The systems make it possible for the electric boat to travel autonomously from Porsgrunn to Brevik ,without a human soul on board.

With a speed of ten knots (nearly 18.5 km / h) and a range of 65 nautical miles (120 km).

Also the loading and unloading, the anchoring and the charging of the 4-MWh battery should take place fully automatically.

Starting in 2019, the first test runs are planned, but there will still be a crew on board.

In 2020, autonomous driving without crew is announced ,some employees will only monitor the ship from a control center.

Rolls-Royce also sends an autonomous ship to the sea in 2020

If everything goes according to plan, 2020 will not only bark the island of Birkeland autonomously.

Rolls-Royce is also developing an autonomous container ship that is to be launched in 2020. “The technologies required for remote-controlled and autonomous ships already exist,” said Oskar Levander, vice president of marine innovation at Rolls-Royce.

The captain’s work is particularly futuristic.

He is no longer sitting in the cab on board, but in a control center on land.

With a Virtual Reality glasses on his nose: he plunges into a virtual command post, drives the ship into the harbor and, if necessary, sends drones into the air to keep an eye on everything.

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