What would you say if there was a ferry in your city that is self-driving, can be summoned with your phone and on top of that, is emission free? If there is none, don’t worry, there might just be one in the near future. Norway is pioneering an electric, self-driving water taxi that could revolutionise urban public transport in the era of the climate crisis.
Zeabuz, a Norwegian start-up, has revealed it will launch a self-driving ferry, or water taxi, next year.
Capable of carrying up to 12 passengers at a time, the water taxis are small, carbon-neutral and customers will be able to hail the commuter ferry by pressing a button on their phones. The battery-powered ferry plans to transport passenger across waterways and settlements along the coast with the intention of having a minimal impact to the environment.
The self-driving technology can make people feel a little uneasy but Zeabuz assured all safety standards and checks have been met. The autonomous ferry will detect the area around them by using various state-of-the-art sensors. This will allow them to navigate around swimmers, other boats or stationary objects in the water. The same sensors will feed data to a control system to help with docking and safely handle passengers.
By revitalising urban waterways, Zeabuz said it will be able to reduce congestion, emissions, noise pollution and traffic jams in cities, while boosting public health. The ferries will connect and integrate with existing land-based public transport infrastructure to give people more sustainable choices. In order to make it even more user-friendly, the docks will be well-placed to suit commuters, while the ferry’s compact size means it will be able to travel under bridges with ease.
The company is also looking at international partners and designing and building similar ferries in cities like New York, Sydney, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and London.
Other cities are also making strides in sustainable water based public transport. While Paris is developing a “flying water taxi” (aka SeaBubbles) along the River Seine, Denmark first electric ferry service has entered service last year.
So, would you be interested in taking a self-driving water taxi or would you prefer the traditional one? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.