Norwegian company Zeabuz has announced that it will be launching a self-driving ferry next year. This zero-emission ferry was first developed in 2018 by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). The ferry is expected to carry 12 passengers and will operate like an elevator, with passengers able to call the ferry to their location by pressing a button.

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The launch of the first self-driving electric ferry in Norway just goes to show the strides the country is making in developing water transport. In 2015, Norway was the first country to launch the world’s first electric car and passenger ferry.

Related: 100% electric passenger vehicle and cargo ferry could help decarbonize sea travel

white ferry on canal with city in the distance

According to Narve Mjøs, the director of DNV GL — a company that advises the maritime industry and organizes the Green Shipping Program in Norway — the country is on the right track when it comes to pioneering new technologies in water transport. Mjøs said that the use of new boats, like the one being launched by Zeabuz, provides a greener alternative to road transport. Further, he said that the process of automation via self-driving helps cut down operation costs.

The newly launched ferry will operate along the canal that connects the port and the city center of Trondheim. Passengers will have a 1-minute travel time, rather than the 15 minutes it typically takes to walk between the two locations. The ferry also has the capacity to transport passenger bicycles, and it is designed to charge while docked. Riding the ferry will be free of charge, at least in Trondheim.

passengers exiting docked ferry

Many countries are turning back to water transport, which was a popular means of travel before the invention of cars. For instance, Bangkok intends to launch 30 new electric ferries and 5,000 electric water taxis come next year. In July 2020, Uber announced plans to launch boat taxis along the Thames River in London. If such plans are actualized, we are likely to see a future with fewer cars and more zero-emission boats.

+ Zeabuz


Images via Zeabuz