APRIL 4, 2018 — Two Norwegian companies — Wilhelmsen and Kongsberg — are forming a joint venture company to take the next step forward in autonomous shipping.
“As a world-leading maritime nation, Norway has taken a position at the forefront in developing autonomous ships,” says Thomas Wilhelmsen, Wilhelmsen group CEO. “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. Massterly will reduce costs at all levels and be applicable to all companies that have a transport need,”
Land-based control centers will be established to monitor and operate autonomous ships in Norway and internationally.
Massterly will benefit from Kongsberg`s unique technological expertise and solutions, and Wilhelmsen’s experience in logistics and ship management operations. Norway’s position as a lmaritime nation also creates opportunities in the development of next-generation maritime personnel.
“Autonomy and remote operations are an important development for the maritime industry and Norway’s lead has been made possible as a result of close cooperation between the Norwegian maritime cluster and the Norwegian authorities,” says Geir Håøy, President and CEO of Kongsberg. “In recent years there has been rapid development driven by a significant increase in demand from customers worldwide, from the traditional maritime industry and others. When autonomous ships soon are a reality, Massterly will be crucial for digitalizing the infrastructure and operations.”
A key milestone in Norway’s maritime autonomy story was the announcement of Yara Birkeland in May 2017. It will be the world’s first fully-electric container vessel and will be completely autonomous by 2020, sailing between Yara’s Norwegian production facilities at Herøya and the ports of Brevik and Larvik. Massterly aims to deliver and operate autonomous vessels such as Yara Birkeland.
“Currently, we are at the very beginning of this development, but we see and believe that there will be a significant market for these types of services in the near future,” says Wilhelmsen. “At first, short sea shipping will use autonomous ships. This also implies increased competitiveness to move transport from road to sea. The gains are increased efficiency and reduction of emissions. For Norway as a maritime nation, this will be an important contribution to reach the UN sustainable development goals,