First Electric Autonomous Cargo Ship Launched In Norway

Zero emissions and, soon, zero crew: the world's first fully electric autonomous cargo vessel was unveiled in Norway, a small but promising step toward reducing the maritime industry's climate footprint. TechXplore reports: By shipping up to 120 containers of fertilizer from a plant in the southeastern town of Porsgrunn to the Brevik port a dozen kilometres (about eight miles) away, the much-delayed Yara Birkeland, shown off to the media on Friday, will eliminate the need for around 40,000 truck journeys a year that are now fueled by polluting diesel. The 80-meter, 3,200-deadweight tonne ship will soon begin two years of working trials during which it will be fine-tuned to learn to maneuver on its own. The wheelhouse could disappear altogether in "three, four or five years", said Holsether, once the vessel makes its 7.5-nautical-mile trips on its own with the aid of sensors. "Quite a lot of the incidents happening on vessels are due to human error, because of fatigue for instance," project manager Jostein Braaten said from the possibly doomed bridge. "Autonomous operating can enable a safe journey," he said. On board the Yara Birkeland, the traditional machine room has been replaced by eight battery compartments, giving the vessel a capacity of 6.8 MWh -- sourced from renewable hydroelectricity. "That's the equivalent of 100 Teslas," says Braaten. The maritime sector, which is responsible for almost three percent of all man-made emissions, aims to reduce its emissions by 40 percent by 2030 and 50 percent by 2050. Despite that, the sector has seen a rise in recent years.

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