The Porsgrunn-Brevik leg is around 13 km or less – an easy feat for battery power alone. However, the challenge will be managing the longer trip to Larvik, a distance of around 30 nautical miles (55 km). Orvik said that charging would take around 2 hours, and would be straightforward at the factory and port because the sites had enough spare grid capacity.
The ship yard taking on the contract will be selected by the end of 2017, with the vessel planned to be launched in the first quarter of 2019. Fully autonomous operations would then begin in 2020.
Some may be sceptical, but the reality is that the passage to fully autonomous, fully electric shipping is now well underway. The race is now on to see which pioneering operator will arrive first at this brave new world.