The task of constructing the first autonomous passenger ferry for use in the heart of Stockholm has been given to Brdrene Aa from Hyen in the Vestland County. The initiative is being driven by the established ferry business Torghatten AS and the supplier for autonomy, Zeabuz.

“Norway is at the forefront of autonomous vessels worldwide, and we have come a long way in developing cargo ships. We are taking this to the next level with the testing and development of commercial, self-driving passenger ferries. We are proud of this project where the shipping company, technology supplier, and shipyard become a Norwegian export product to Stockholm,” says Reidun Svarva, head of business development in Torghatten.

The 25-person electric catamaran that is now being constructed is expected to be finished in April 2023. The passenger ferry will run the route between Stockholm’s Kungsholmen and Söder Mellarstrand for 15 hours each day while running entirely on electricity. The ferry features a single member of the crew and a land-based control room.

“Initially, the ferry will be guided by a crew consisting of a captain, while the trip across will be monitored from a control room. In the long term, the intention is to control everything from the control room,” says Svarva.

The 12-meter-long catamaran includes an open, covered passenger deck where passengers can board and exit at either end. The Brdrene Aa Shipyard, which dates back to 1947, is where the yacht is being constructed. For use in Norway and abroad, the shipyard has created novel building methods and constructed energy-efficient carbon fiber vessels.

“We see great future possibilities for this type of vessel at a time when more and more cities are looking at better utilization of the waterways as a means of transport. The agreement has significant strategic value for us as we, together with Torghatten and Zeabuz, are demonstrating ground-breaking technology”

The passenger ferry’s autonomous system is provided by the Norwegian IT firm Zeabuz. The company was established as a result of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s maritime research environment (NTNU). Zeabuz and NTNU have already created an autonomous test ferry that travels across Trondheim. The Stockholm project is notable for being the first commercially operating autonomous ferry in the world.

“We have learned a lot from our project in Trondheim, and now we are ready to take the next step in creating the world’s first commercial autonomous city ferry. The technology will essentially be the same, but in Stockholm, we will seriously test the autonomy system in daily operations with passengers in a way no one has done before. This will be incredibly exciting,” says the CEO of Zeabuz, Erik Dyrkoren.

International attention is being generated by the Stockholm autonomous ferry project, not the least of which is the initiative’s environmental credentials. 90% of metropolitan places are near waterways, however due to significant pollution and expensive operational costs, many rivers are underutilized.

“With autonomy, we can get operating costs low enough to make the ferry commercially profitable and offer a departure frequency adapted to market needs. It means a green transport revolution at sea, and Stockholm is the first place in the world where this is now being tested,” says Reidun Svarva in Torghatten.