"World-first" autonomous electric passenger ferry enters use in Norway
Building bridges over municipal waterways isn't a simple or inexpensive endeavor, which is why many cities instead look to ferries. With that fact in mind, a new autonomous electric passenger ferry is being trialled in Norway, and it's said to be the first of its kind.
Designed by a team at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), the vessel is known as the milliAmpere 2. It's part of the university's larger Autoferry project.
In a trial project that runs until the middle of next month, it is currently transporting passengers across the main channel in the city of Trondheim. Although the craft can accommodate up to 20 passengers, it's taking a maximum of 12 at a time during the testing period. And according to NTNU, "This is the first time a self-propelled electric passenger ferry has been put into trial operation along urban waterways."
As compared to an earlier prototype (named the milliAmpere), the milliAmpere 2 is considerably larger, it sports a new design, plus it incorporates more advanced technology beneath its deck. That under-deck technology includes battery packs, chargers, computers, and a dynamic positioning system.
Up on top of the deck, sensors such as cameras, LiDAR and radar modules allow the ferry to monitor its surroundings, in order to avoid collisions with structures or other watercraft. And while it is designed to run autonomously, a human operator in a land-based control room is able to watch what it's doing via those sensors, and can take manual remote control if necessary.
The technology behind the milliAmpere 2 is being commercialized by spinoff company Zeabuz. That startup is working with Norwegian ferry company Torghatten to develop an autonomous ferry, which is slated to enter use in Stockholm, Sweden next summer.
Source: Norwegian SciTech News