Two Norwegian shipping giants, Wilhelmsen and Kongsberg, have joined together to create what they’ve described as the world’s first autonomous shipping company. “As a world-leading maritime nation, Norway has taken a position at the forefront in developing autonomous ships,” Wilhelmsen CEO Thomas Wilhelmsen told the Maritime Journal. “Through the creation of the new company named Massterly, we take the next step on this journey by establishing infrastructure and services to design and operate vessels, as well as advanced logistics solutions associated with maritime autonomous operations.”
The corporate collaboration, which brings a combined 360 years of experience to the shipping game, promises affordable prices through automated efficiency. “Massterly will reduce costs at all levels and be applicable to all companies that have a transport need,” said Wilhelmsen. Kongsberg is set to provide its technological expertise while Wilhelmsen will offer its logistics and ship management operations experience. The autonomous ships will be monitored and modified at control centers, which will be established on land.
Norway has led the way in autonomous ship technology, particularly since the launch of the Yara Birkeland. The electric ship began its first journey in May 2017 and will become fully autonomous by 2020. In the meantime, it will host an on-board crew, then be remotely operated. The ship cost about $25 million to build, and its first shipping mission cost almost three times as much as a traditional ship; however, it is projected to save up to 90% in annual operating costs of labor and fuel. The Yara Birkeland was created through a collaboration between agricultural firm Yara International and Kongsberg. The companies plan to roll out larger, more robust autonomous ships once regulations are in place. Globally, the job impacts of autonomous ships are expected to be far less extensive than those of autonomous trucks.
Images via Kongsberg