Freight forwarder DB Schenker, a division of German rail operator Deutsche Bahn, plans to run a fully-electric autonomous coastal container feeder between Ikornnes quay and the Port of Ålesund in Norway.
DB Schenker and its cooperation partners, the furniture giant Ekornes and vessel designers Naval Dynamics, in addition to Kongsberg and Massterly, aim to replace the traditional feeder vessels utilised along this stretch of the Norwegian coastline. The 50 m long vessel leverages the Naval Dynamics’ NDS AutoBarge 250 concept and is intended for a three-hour, 43km voyage at a speed of 7.7 knots. It would operate unmanned but under the supervision of Massterly’s remote operation center.
Geir Håøy, CEO of Kongsberg, which is also involved in several fully-electric and autonomous vessel operations, including Yara Birkeland, said the company is beginning to see a general shift away from the road transportation of goods, with its considerable carbon footprint, and towards clean, energy-efficient, short-sea freight transportation.
According to DB Schenker, the benefits will be numerous, including zero emissions, faster and more efficient transport, and reduced traffic on roads. The partners plan to secure approval from the Norwegian Maritime Authority and possibly governmental incentives for the sustainability and technology aspects.
“This unique project will mark another important step toward greener supply chains and pays into our overall sustainability agenda in ocean freight. We are ambitiously taking the lead here with our cooperation partners,” said Knut Eriksmoen, CEO Norway, DB Schenker.
“Using the autonomous electric container feeder for direct pick-ups of our stressless products from our own quay at Ikornnes means that our total carbon footprint will be reduced significantly. We will also gain better control over, and greater flexibility in our own logistics,” added Roger Lunde, CEO of Ekornes.