YARA has teamed up with Kosenberg to work on a vessel which runs solely without any human intervention, with the hope they can get it on the seas by the end of 2018, testing it by relaying products between YARA's Porsgrunn production plant to Brevik and Larvik in Norway.
Svein Tore Holsether, President and CEO of YARA, said: "As a leading global fertilizer company with a mission to feed the world and protect the planet, investing in this zero emission vessel to transport our crop nutrition solutions fits our strategy well. We are proud to work with KONGSBERG to realise the world's first autonomous, all-electric vessel to enter commercial operation.
"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. 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."
The vessel - which will be named YARA Birkeland after the company's founder Kristian Birkeland - hopes to reduce CO2 emissions and claims it could help improve road safety by removing the need for 40,000 truck journeys in cities.
Geir Håøy, President and CEO of KONGSBERG, added: "By moving container transport from land to sea, YARA Birkeland is the start of a major contribution to fulfilling national and international environmental impact goals. The new concept is also a giant step forward towards increased seaborne transportation in general ...
"Developing systems for autonomous operations is a major opening and natural step for KONGSBERG, considering our decades of expertise in the development and integration of advanced sensors, control and communication systems for all areas of ship operations. YARA Birkeland will set the benchmark for the application of innovative maritime technology for more efficient and environmentally friendly shipping."
The team will be initially monitoring the ship with people on board but are hoping to be completely autonomous by 2020.