China reports that it has put the world’s first autonomous, electric container feeder ship into commercial service after a period of extensive trials.
he vessel Zhi Fei began commercial operations on April 22, 2022, and was developed through a broad collaboration of Chinese institutions.
The Zhi Fei is reported to be approximately 8,000 dwt with a capacity of 300 TEU. Its propulsion is reported to be by a DC electric system that gives the feeder ship a top speed of approximately 12 knots and a normal operating speed of 8 knots. The Zhi Fei was built by the Qingdao Shipyard.
The initial construction contract was signed at the end of 2019 with work starting in May 2020. The vessel was launched in April 2021 with the first sea trials taking place in June and testing on the systems began last September.
The technical evaluation was completed in March 2022, and the vessel is now operating between Qingdao Port in Shandong Province and Dongjiakou managed by Navigation Brilliance (BRINAV).
According to local media, the ship uses a full-rotation electric propulsion system based on hybrid technology, as well as large-capacity battery packs and generator sets, through DC networking to achieve intelligent energy efficiency optimization.
According to the Chinese, this is the first time that a DC power system has been combined with intelligent operations.
The containership is also capable of operating in three different modes, manned driving, remote driving, and unmanned driving. The intelligent systems can provide independent route planning, intelligent collision avoidance, and remote-control operations.
Finally, the vessel employs 5G, satellites, and other multi-network systems.