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World's First Autonomous Shipping Company Formed

A very big stride towards autonomous shipping is taken by Wilhelmsen and Kongsberg in their new progressive venture called ‘Massterly’ which offers a complete value chain for autonomous ships, from design and development, to control systems, logistics services and vessel operations.

Thomas Wilhelmsen, Wilhelmsen group CEO, explains ‘Massterly’: "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 Massterly plan is to have land-based control centers monitor and operate autonomous ships globally, tapping Kongsberg's tech solutions and Wilhelmsen's logistics and ship management operations. 

Geir Håøy, President and CEO of KONGSBERG, said, “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. 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 can 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. 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," says Wilhelmsen. 

The new joint venture company will be based at offices in Lysaker, Norway, and be fully operational from August 2018. 


What used to happen and entertain in Science Fiction, the driverless cars etc., now begins to assume reality. It is but natural and logical that in the technology-savvy world, automation will have to figure, sooner or later and the industry knows how to use it and where to use it to its profit.


Initial innovative venture need not be perfect in all ways though it has potentials for perfection. Beginning is important and then the road to perfection is automatic.


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