Norwegian shipping company Torghatten AS is launching what it claims is the world’s first commercially available autonomous electric passenger ferry, which will begin regular sailings between the islands in central Stockholm, Sweden later this year.
The autonomous technology at the heart of the Zeam ferry has been under development for several years at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, which successfully launched trials of the ferry last year as part of its Autoferry project.
The device, now commercialized by spin-off company Zeabuz co-owned by Torghatten AS, consists of radar and LiDAR to track and avoid other objects on the water, with infrared and vision cameras assisting an AI-based “digital captain” to understand the ferry’s surroundings Happenings, ultrasonic sensors facilitate automatic docking operations, GPS positioning.
Built by Brødrene Aa, the autonomous catamaran ferry measures 12 x 5 meters (39.3 x 16.4 ft), enough room to carry 25 passengers (plus six bicycles) between Stockholm’s Kings Island and South Island. A 188 kWh battery pack supplied by ZEM will be charged by a 7.7 kW solar panel array on top, with propulsion provided by electric motors.
Zeam ferries are expected to start operating in June, with departures every 15 minutes for a maximum of 15 hours a day. Torghatten AS wants Stockholm to be the first of many cities to adopt the initiative.