First-in-the-world self-driving electric passenger ferry begins service in Stockholm (Sweden)

   June 14, 2023 ,   Cruise Industry

Earlier this week was the launch of the world's first-ever self-driving passenger ferry. Created by Norwegian company Torghatten ASA (Bronnoysund Norway), the boat (MF Estelle) is operated by Zeabuz (Trondheim Norway) and is now navigating autonomously between the islands of Stockholm Sweden, without any human intervention.

The ferry's autonomous technology has been under development for several years at Trondheim's NTNU/Norwegian University of Science and Technology. NTNU successfully conducted a trial as part of its Autoferry project in 2022.

The autonomous catamaran MF Estelle has dimensions 12x5 m (39x16 ft) and max passenger capacity 25 (plus 6 bicycles). The ferry operates Stockholm's downtown route between Riddarfjarden Bay (Lake Malaren) and Sodermalm (island district). It relies on a 188-kWh battery bank charged by a 7.7-kW solar-panel array on its roof, and its propulsion is driven by an electric motor.

The core of this ferry lies in its operating system, which utilizes radar, LiDAR (to detect and avoid objects in the water), infrared and vision cameras to assist the AI-powered "digital captain" in comprehending its surroundings, ultrasonic sensors for automated docking maneuvers, and GPS for positioning.

It's important to note that a human supervisor is present on board; however, their role is primarily to intervene in case of exceptional circumstances or unforeseen events.

The company intends to use this route as a stepping stone to develop additional autonomous ferry routes in Sweden, building upon the success of this groundbreaking project.