Written by Thembani Magazi – January 20, 2020
Edited by Asaf Kedem
Cities in 2021 are hungry for new autonomous mobility solutions. Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) devised a new service to ferry passengers with ease across the canal that separates the port and the city centre in Trondheim. It appears that Zeabuz is meeting the demand for a new generation of flexible, adaptable, movable and scalable waterborne mobility solutions, connecting communities across and along their waterways. Showing the power of the young startup to make an ingenious solution, embarking on a Zeabuz journey is now the convenient and pleasant alternative to a proposed bridge. The company claims their autonomous passenger ferries will be low cost, efficient, available 24/7 and integrate with other smart mobility solutions. Passengers on both sides of the canal can summon the ferry at the push of a button. The ferry itself charges wirelessly while idle and docked. Let’s dive deeper into how this fully electric and autonomous mobility solution will create real value in passenger’s lives.
The full Zeabuz mobility system includes the autonomous ferries, docking stations with wireless charging, passenger handling and ticketing systems, secure wireless communication and a remote support centre.The boat can fit 12 passengers. Each passenger can take on board their own bicycle and ride the ferry free of charge! The initiative is part of a larger movement around the world targeting the use of waterways for more sustainability. Of course, the fully electric ferry means a net-zero carbon footprint for its Trondheim residents. Based only in Trondheim for now, Zeabuz is the perfect example of smart, climate friendly mobility solutions being used to cut down road congestion in coastal areas. The complete time to cross is just less than 60 seconds which saves pedestrians a full 15 minutes of walking.
Zeabuz ferries will be connected via 5G to a control centre operated by a human who can summon help if necessary; however, the company states that they are exploring fool-proof safety systems. Moreover, each boat uses sensors and cameras that scan for obstacles and a navigation system that monitors the boat’s position and speed. The autonomous ferry will also, through its system of cameras, radar and lidar sensors be able to safely navigate around swimmers, other boats or stationary objects in the water during the short journey across the canal. Erik Dyrkoren, Zeabus’s CEO, claims the Zeabuz will “work like an elevator” and will launch this year.
Auto Trendy’s take:
The battery-powered Zeabuz will transport passengers across waterways in cities, as well as settlements along the coast and have a minimal impact on the environment. Congestion, noise pollution and traffic jams are all problems at the forefront of urban development which places further emphasis on the need to devise mobility solutions with the health and well-being of both the communities and the natural environment in mind. The use of water taxis and ferries is gaining momentum not only in Norway but in cities such as London, New York and most notably Bangkok which is set to launch 5000 electric water taxis and 30 new all-electric ferries sometime this year. This autonomous ferry in Norway is paving the way for waterborne mobility solutions of the new decade.