Already next year, the list of unmanned vehicles will be supplemented by an autonomous electrically powered container ship developed jointly by the Norwegian companies Yara and Kongsberg.
The Yara Birkeland, a state-of-the-art shipbuilding vessel, will be used to transport fertilizers produced at Yara's Prosgrunn plant to the nearby towns of Brevik and Larvik. It is assumed that the entire 2018 of the ship will be operated in a manned mode, and during 2019-2020 it will be transferred completely to autonomous mode.
One of the most important advantages of the Yara Birkeland type vessels is a significant reduction in CO2 and NOx (nitrogen oxides) emissions, since every year 40, 000 cargo flights were required to deliver goods along this route.
This is not the first project of this kind. Rolls Royce recently unveiled its vision of robotic cargo ships operated from onshore control centers. Reducing the cost of transportation is due to the lack of a crew and a simpler ship design: it has no cabins and a deck.
With the start of regular commercial voyages of autonomous cargo ships powered by electric propulsion, great prospects are opening up in the field of shipping. It is possible that, over time, unmanned seagoing vessels will overtake autonomous vehicles in their development.