Norway: Vard signs contract for autonomous electric container vessel
Vard (Fincantieri group) has signed a 250 million Norwegian krone (about 25 million euros) contract to build the world's first autonomous electric container vessel for the Norwegian Yara company.
At the signing ceremony, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg emphasised the synergy between national companies and the innovative nature of the project. The designer of the project is Kongsberg which is also a Norwegian company.
The vessel will be named Yara Birkeland, and is scheduled for delivery by Vard in early 2020. It will transport fertiliser containers along the 60km between the production plant and the port of Larvik, 10km south of Oslo, from where Yara exports worldwide. The ship will initially be manned by a crew who can intervene if there are computer problems, but navigation will eventually be managed by artificial intelligence and totally autonomous by 2022. The International Maritime Organisation will be negotiating an international agreement on how to manage autonomous ships.
The ship will be 80 metres long, and replace about 40,000 truck journeys a year, reducing transport costs, nitric oxide and carbon dioxide emissions, and improving road safety in a densely populated urban area.