A self-driving electric ferry for Norway’s waterways

Norwegian startup Zeabuz plans to launch a sustainable self-driving ferry in 2021, five years after the first fully-electric ferry started operating in the country.

Next year, a fully autonomous and electric ferry will start sailing along the canal that connects the port of Trondheim, in Norway, with the city center. The zero-emission ferry, which was originally developed in 2018 by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, is now marketed by a spin-off called Zeabuz. The new ferry will carry up to 12 passengers, each with their own bike, and will operate free of charge. Passengers will be able to press a button at the ferry stop to call it, more or less like an elevator. The trip along the canal is expected to last just one minute, with short pauses between the trips to quickly recharge the ferry’s batteries. «Norway has a complete maritime cluster and together with NTNU's world-leading expertise in digitalisation, automation and autonomy, we can create a new industrial adventure,» says Haugland, CEO of «Skift Business Climate Leaders» and chairman of the new startup.

Zeabuz is now looking to expand beyond Trondheim and eventually outside of Norway. Interest in electric ferries for short-haul urban transport is growing, as many cities around the world are rediscovering the effectiveness of existing waterways. The city of Bangkok, for example, where the Chao Phraya River often used as an alternative to buses and cars, is planning to shift to electric ferries starting next year.

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