A box of oysters delivered to Belgian clients earlier this week marks another landmark moment on the voyage towards autonomous shipping.
The shipment of seafood went across the busy English Channel leaving on Monday night from the UK county of Essex to Oostende onboard a 12 m long unmanned surface vessel developed by a British firm called SEA-KIT International. The voyage took 22 hours.
Yesterday the boat made its return journey carrying a cargo of Belgian beer. The vessel, called SEA-KIT USV Maxlimer, has a payload capacity of 2.5 tonnes.
The creators of this new vessel claim it can be scaled up in size.
Ben Simpson of SEA-KIT International commented: “SEA-KIT is a fundamentally versatile model. Its potential lies in its ability to be adapted to a range of tasks, whether it be transit, hydrographic surveys, environmental missions, or marine safety and security. We’re tremendously excited to push the technology to its limits and see what we can achieve.”
On a significantly larger scale, the Yara Birkeland, the world’s first autonomous and electric container vessel, is due to be delivered from Scandinavian yard Vard early next year. The vessel will initially be manned, with 2022 targeted for fully autonomous operations.