Business

Massive Ships May No Longer Have Crews In Near Future If This Company Succeeds

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor

A Norwegian shipping company announced Saturday that in just a few years it will be able to transport massive amounts of cargo via boats without any captains, sailors or onboard operators in general.

Yara International says it’s new ship will be the world’s first ever fully autonomous and electric water vessel. The corporation teamed up with the tech conglomerate Kongsberg, which is responsible for the “development and delivery of all key enabling technologies … including the sensors and integration” as well as “the electric drive, battery and propulsion control systems.” The unmanned ship is expected to be completely finished and ready for use by 2020.

Called the YARA Birkeland and operated through a remote control, the advanced container vessel will produce zero emissions and will specifically convey products from one of its plants in Norway to another location in the country. Bloomberg was the first to report on the YARA Birkeland.

If the state of the art and massive watercraft eventually comes to fruition, it could have a huge effect on the international maritime industry, including the amount of harm done to the environment as well as transit and trade efficiency

Yara reportedly expects its new unmanned vessel to reduce the amount of land-based truck journeys by 40,000 trips a year.

“Every day, more than 100 diesel truck journeys are needed to transport products from YARA’s Porsgrunn plant to ports in Brevik and Larvik where we ship products to customers around the world,” Svein Tore Holsether, president and CEO of YARA, said in an official statement. “With this new autonomous battery-driven container vessel we move transport from road to sea and thereby reduce noise and dust emissions, improve the safety of local roads, and reduce NOx and CO2 emissions.”

How a boat with full automation will be able to effectively deal with strong ocean currents caused by nasty weather without any onboard crew members is not yet known. (RELATED: Robot Submarine Dubbed ‘Boaty McBoatface’ Set To Go On Antarctic Mission)

While an outside operator would still partially control the boat, the rise of the autonomous ship shows the self-driving vehicle revolution has now arrived at another inevitable destination.

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