This month, China’s first autonomous containership went into service. Shandong Port Group put the 300 teu Zhi Fei, handled by Navigation Brilliance (Brinav), into service on a short-sea route between Dongjiakou and Qingdao in eastern Shandong province after months of thorough trials. The 5,000-DWT ship was designed by Navigation Brilliance (Qingdao) Technology in collaboration with Dalian Maritime University and the China Waterborne Transport Research Institute, and built by Qingdao Shipyard in accordance with China Classification Society (CCS) rules. It measures 117 metres in length and has a top speed of 12 knots.
Ordered in 2019, and launched in April last year, the vessel operates on manual, remote control, and autonomous navigation. It is fitted with indigenous systems for independent route planning and collision avoidance, with communications between the vessel and shore stations via 5G, satellite, and other multi-network, multi-mode systems. With a cruising range of 4,500 nautical miles, the ship is said to sport a full-rotation electric propulsion system based on hybrid technology and integrates large-capacity power battery packs and generator sets through DC networking to achieve intelligent energy efficiency optimisation under multiple operating conditions.