The autonomous Yara Birkeland as designed by Marin Teknikk. Source: Kongsberg MaritimeThe autonomous Yara Birkeland as designed by Marin Teknikk. Source: Kongsberg MaritimeA six-meter, 2.4-ton model represents the final design of the autonomous and fully electric container vessel under development by global fertilizer company Yara (Oslo, Norway) and technology group Kongsberg Maritime (Kongsberg, Norway). As announced in May, the companies have partnered to build the fully electric container vessel. Testing of the Yara Birkeland model is now underway at SINTEF Ocean’s 80-meter test tank facility in Trondheim.

Commercial operation of the vessel is expected to reduce nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide emissions from diesel-powered trucks. Fully autonomous operations are planned for 2020.

Designed by Marin Teknikk, the model of the final design incorporates technology destined for the full-size version, including a fully working tunnel thruster system from Kongsberg.

The battery-powered Yara Birkeland is a 120 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) open-top container ship. The final design includes a 7.5-9 MWh battery pack, with two Azimuth pods and two tunnel thrusters. Proximity sensors include radar, LiDAR, AIS and IR camera.

Loading and unloading will be conducted automatically using electric cranes and equipment. The ship will not have ballast tanks, but will use the battery pack as permanent ballast.

Berthing and unberthing will be performed without human intervention by means of an automatic mooring system. The autonomous ship will sail within 12 nautical miles from the coast between three ports in southern Norway. For the first phase of the project, a containerized bridge with crew facilities will be implemented. When the ship is ready for autonomous operation, this module will be lifted off.

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