World's first autonomous shipping company announced in Norway
Last May we heard about the Yara Birkeland, which is planned to be the world's first all-electric and autonomous container ship. When it enters full autonomous control in 2020, it will likely be under the auspices of the just-announced world's first autonomous shipping company, Massterly.
The Yara Birkeland is being developed in a partnership between Norwegian chemical company Yara, and Norwegian maritime technology company Kongsberg. Massterly is in turn the result of a collaboration between Kongsberg and Norway's Wilhelmsen ship management company.
Plans call for Massterly to design and build autonomous ships, along with creating their control systems and logistics services. Land-based control centers will be used to monitor (and sometimes remotely operate) the vessels, both in Norwegian waters and internationally.
"Currently, we are at the very beginning of this development, but we see and believe that there will be a significant market for these types of services in the near future," says Wilhelmsen CEO, Thomas Wilhelmsen. "At first, short sea shipping will use autonomous ships. This also implies increased competitiveness to move transport from road to sea. The gains are increased efficiency and reduction of emissions."
Massterly will be based in Lysaker, Norway, and should be fully operational by August. The following video provides some more information.
Source: Kongsberg via Inhabitat
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Pirates will just love these!
But then, while reading, realize they are still talking about boring surface ships. Quite a letdown.
Seriously, if they can get these same ships down so their tops are not much more than 15 or even 20 meters under the seas, would not the trip be much more "stable", smooth and energy-efficient? *Small, sealed, self-contained reactors could supply power for the AI equipment and propulsion/control systems. Just need to build them robust enough to handle very high temps/pressures in case of emergency. Totally within today's technological capabilities. *Not fighting waves, but cutting cleanly "through" the water? (With a decent design?) *As for security, how is anyone going to hijack a ship they cannot see? *Autonomous mode - meeting other ships? Ship on Starboard has RoW, so ship on Port side must "descend" 30 Meters to ensure clear passage crossing paths. (and perhaps take a slight detour just to make sure?)
All I'm saying is that this is hardly new stuff: ~ Autonomous Ships have been at sea for several years now - hell, there are several fleets of Scientific Craft wandering the various oceans now taking all kinds of readings of wind, current, temperature, sunlight, etc. ~Semi-Sumbmersible ships, huge ones, currently self-submerge to pick up larger cargo, then steam off either back on the surface again, or remain underwater (for the most part) while moving the cargo (that's on top of the waves). Personally, seems kind of a waste.
Cargo Ships were a natural evolution, but why stop the evolution at a single step? Take a larger step to what we KNOW will be the next logical step, and make cargo ship's submersibles. Make it a Revolution in Shipping. (Perhaps post 1 or 2 poor highly-paid schmucks to watch the reactor in the sub?)
Do not all those Cocaine Smugglers with their submersible drug-running ships just prove my point. The tech is there!
Just my dream, I guess.