Who’s Running the Ship?

Norway is testing a new way to make ocean freight transportation more sustainable: autonomous electric ships.

Norwegian fertilizer manufacturer Yara International has commissioned the Yara Birkeland, which will be the world’s first autonomous electric containership. The company plans to use the freighter between ports to eliminate the use of diesel-powered trucks. The electric ship should be able to replace a total of 40,000 truck journeys annually, according to Yara International. Because current battery technology is insufficient for long distances, the ship will travel only short routes.

The ship measures 70 meters long and 14 meters wide, with the capacity to hold 120 containers. Because there won’t be any people on board, the ship can dedicate more space to cargo. The ship will be delivered in 2020, and Yara International plans for it to be fully autonomous and operational by 2022.

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