A 100% autonomous and electric ferry was inaugurated Thursday in Stockholm, which according to its promoters becomes the first city in the world to put into service this type of shuttles. "This is a revolutionary day for everyone," said Stein André Herigstad-Olsen, CEO of Torghatten, the Norwegian company that led the project. The company claims a world first for an autonomous urban ferry, an area where Scandinavia is at the forefront. From Monday, the ferry called "MF Estelle", the first copy of which cost about 1.5 million euros, will initially circulate on short routes of a few hundred meters between several islands in downtown Stockholm. A pilot is currently on board to supervise, but without touching the controls. It is then planned to become "totally autonomous", says André Herigstad-Olsen, who hopes to increase the number of shuttles in circulation in Stockholm and abroad.
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The autonomy of the small ferry of about ten meters is possible thanks to different systems, explains Erik Nilsson, operational manager of Torghatten. "We have the usual radar, AIS, but also additional cameras and ultrasonic systems that allow us to identify" obstacles on the road. "This autonomous system works like a captain, he sees like a captain and sails like a captain," abounds the CEO. The safety of passengers will be ensured, according to the company. "If a canoe appears, we see it in less than a second and update the course" of the shuttle, says Erik Nilsson. It will be able to carry a maximum of 30 people and the price of a one-way ticket will be 35 Swedish kronor (about 3 euros). The ferry aims to encourage locals to walk or bike to work, instead of taking the car.
This initiative comes at a time when the electric vessel and automated boat sector is booming. In November 2021, the first 100% autonomous electric cargo ship was born in Norway: the Yara Birkeland, 80 meters long and 3200 deadweight tons. But its empowerment will be gradual.