You read that correctly. We have heard of cars without the need of having drivers, and now we are going to experience ships without out the need of any crew member on board, this means that the ship is completely automated, without having the presence of a single crew member, including the captain of the ship.
A shipping company in Norway known as Yara is partnering with Kongsberg, a maritime engineering corporation. The ship, which would be named “Yara Birkeland” would be ready for launch next year, in 2018. The ship would become the world’s first fully automatic ship, and that too with a capacity of over a hundred containers. Therefore, it can actually be used for short haul and long haul shipments. This revolutionary project is dubbed to be the ‘Tesla of the seas’.
However, though the project would be completed and launched come next year, it will begin its operations through various stages to ensure that it is fully capable for shipments without crew members. As such, there would be phase periods of services partially operated by crew members. The Yara Birkeland will only commence the full autonomous shipping process in 2020.
The perceived benefits of making use of a container ship is staggering. To illustrate, the shipping vessel is expected to reduce costs by as much as ninety percent, mainly through the savings of paying a salary. There are also several environmental benefits that are expected like the lower emission of carbon, which is equivalent to 40,000 shipping journeys each year. This is primarily due to the fact that the engines of the Yara Birkeland is powered by batteries.
Currently, Norway is working on a similar, smaller scale project of automated ferries, where computer operated ferry lanes would be due to complete early next year as well. Just like the automated container ship, the ferries are also battery operated along with capabilities of reducing or even completely eliminating carbon emissions.
When the project kicks off, it will start off as relatively short haul, avoiding politically unstable routes. Visibly unmanned vessels can be perceived as an easy target by pirates. However, some pirates may choose not to apporach the ship if there are no people as it would mean that none could be taken as hostages.
The successful implementation of automated ships would mean that there would be lesser need to recruit people to be on the ship so as to ensure the safety of the goods. Furthermore, the ships are also said to be more environmentally friendly. This could mark the birth of a completely new industry.
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