Cruising around Sweden’s canals is about to get a lot easier and cleaner.
What is billed as the world’s first self-sailing electric ferry is expected to launch in the Scandinavian country in just a few months’ time, as reported by Marine Industry News.
The zero-emissions multihull, known as Zeam, was developed by technology provider Zeabuz and will be built by Brødrene Aa and operated by Norwegian shipping company Torghatten. It will take passengers between the Stockholm islands of Kungsholmen and Södermalm starting this summer.
The designers say the 39-foot ferry can carry up to 24 passengers (plus bicycles) and will run every 15 minutes for up to 15 hours per day, thereby lowering carbon emissions and reducing traffic congestion in the coastal metropolis.
“Many large cities around the world have problems with congestion, lack of capacity, and environmental and air pollution,” Reidun Svarva, chief business development officer at Torghatten, said in a statement. “Self-driving technology will be part of the solution and will be good for both the climate and people.”
The vessel is equipped with an electric motor, a 188 kWh Zem battery bank, and rooftop solar panels that can generate clean, green energy. The cat can also be charged overnight to eliminate the need for any pesky refueling—or recharging, in this case—during peak travel times.
The autonomous cruiser eschews the need for crew, too. The AI-based “digital captain” will use radar and LiDAR to find a clear path, as well as infrared and cameras to keep track of objects on the water. It will also employ ultrasonic sensors for automatic docking maneuvers and GPS for positioning. Torghatten assures that the self-sailing tech is tested and safe, but there will be a captain on board at first to ensure everything runs smoothly during the crossing.
“Instead of being barriers, the water surfaces will sew the city together and become a shortcut for all Stockholmers,” Svarva adds.
The first prototypes were actually built by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Zeabuz, which is co-owned by Torghatten, was then launched to scale up the university’s original design to a commercial level.
Svarva says the company plans to expand the concept to more parts of the world. Paris is reportedly looking into using the emission-free ferry on the Seine for the 2024 Olympics. If you want to see it in action before then, though, the ferry is expected to debut in Stockholm this June.