Yara Birkeland, World’s First Autonomous Electric Container Ship, Launches

Photo Credit: Yara

Yara Birkeland, the world’s first autonomous and electric container ship, completed her maiden voyage last week, arriving in Oslo, Norway.

The new vessel is capable of carrying 120 TEUs, a figure that – while small compared to megaships – is impressive for a vessel that gives off zero emissions. Yara Birkeland is, in fact, the world’s first zero-emission container vessel that is powered autonomously.

As part of the vessel’s first journey last week, Yara Birkeland traversed the Oslo fjord. The vessel had received the support and funding necessary to make it a reality from the Norwegian government. It had cost over $15 million to build and launch, an impressive sum. Starting next year, in 2022, the vessel will be in commercial operations and will be used to transport fertilizer.

Yara, a Norwegian fertilizer company, is celebrating the launch as the beginning of a new, clearer shipping era.

The CEO of Yara, Svein Tore Holsether, hailed the launch, saying:

“We are proud to be able to showcase the world’s first fully electric and self-propelled container ship. It will cut 1,000 tonnes of CO2 and replace 40,000 trips by diesel-powered trucks a year.”

He added:

“This is an excellent example of green transition in practice, and we hope this ship will be the start of a new type of emission-free container ships. There are a lot of places in the world with congested roads that will benefit from a high-tech solution like this.”

The ship, like other autonomous vessels and vehicles, uses a complex variety of sensor technology to detect objects on the waterways around it to avoid collisions and more. The technology was developed by Kongsberg Gruppen, a Norwegian technology conglomerate.