Norway Start Up to Develop Emission Free Autonomous Ferries

BY Tiya Chatterji December 30, 2019

The Norwegian University and Leading marine technology entrepreneurs of Science and Technology (NTNU) have joined forces to set up a new company to build ‘emission-free marine mobility solutions'.

The world is increasingly inching towards urbanization, and most cities are located in coastal areas or along waterways. This, says former DNV GL executive Bjørn K. Haugland, requires new transport solutions that are cost-effective and emission-free. Norway's NTNU has initiated a new company, Zeabuz, that will build small commuter ferries, led by Haugland and a team of three professors. Haugland is CEO of Skift Business Climate Leaders and chairman of the new company. “The climate crisis means that there will be great demand for smart, climate-friendly mobility solutions worldwide. NTNU has been researching ship control and autonomy for many years, and the Norwegian industrial adventure concerning dynamic positioning of ships started at NTNU,” he says.

“Autonomy fits like a glove with electric ferries. This enables better control, optimal operation, safety and maintenance,” says Asgeir J. Sørensen, director of NTNU's research center on autonomous maritime operations, NTNU AMOS."It enables better control, operation, safety and maintenance – and our new autonomous solution will lead the world in the development of self-driving ferries that can safely maneuver among other boats, dock to the quay by themselves, and handle passengers safely.“We are currently working with DNV GL, the Norwegian Coastal Administration and the Norwegian Maritime Directorate to test two prototypes in Trondheim.

This development has given rise to a multi-million dollar industry which is concentrated in Norway, and Zeabuz will tap into that to develop autonomous ferries to sell to both cities and smaller settlements along the coast. The Zeabuz ferries will be small, electric and operated on-demand. “Norway has a complete maritime cluster and together with NTNU's world-leading expertise in digitalization, automation and autonomy, we are creating a new industrial adventure,” explains Bjørn Haugland, former DNV GL executive and chairman of the new company.