Stockholm to put autonomous ferry into operation this year

Written by Nick Blenkey
Autonomous ferry at dock

The autonomous ferry will initially have an operator on board

Back in November last year, Norwegian ferry operator Torghatten announced that it was planning to operate a small autonomous ferry in Stockholm, Sweden, and that shipbuilder Brødrene Aa had been given the order to build the 25-passenger vessel.

Today, the Ports of Stockholm said that, in collaboration with several partners, has been awarded research funding from the Swedish Transport Agency for research into autonomous shipping in an urban city environment. The aim of the research project is to explore and develop the safety aspects involved and to create new preconditions for maritime sustainability and mobility services.

The study will not reach any conclusions prior to Torghatten starting its service. Its vessel will initially have an operator in board and Torghatten is one of the partners in the new research project, as is Norwegian autonomous technology specialist Zeabuz, which is supplying the tech that will make the vessel ordered at Brødrene Aa autonomous.

“The concept behind the project is to investigate the inherent policy-related challenges of autonomous operation, both prior to and in parallel with the introduction of the new Stockholm service,” says Reidun Svarva, business development manager at the Torghatten AS shipping company. “This is important when we transition from the stage of having an operator aboard to being a service that is monitored and controlled remotely from a control room on the mainland,” says Reidun Svarva, Business Development Manager at the Torghatten AS shipping company.

The Torghatten vessel being built by Brødrene Aa is an electric catamaran with a capacity of 25 people, and is scheduled to be completed in April 2023. Like other boats built by the company it will have a light weight composites hull.

autonomous ferry
Ferry will have light weight composites hull

The boat will operate the stretch between Kungsholmen and Søder Mellarstrand in Stockholm, with 15 hours of continuous electric operation every day. The boat has a crew of one person in addition to a control room on land.

It has an open, covered passenger deck with boarding and disembarking at both ends and is 12 meters long.

Zeabuz , which is supplying the autonomous system for ferrywas spun out of the maritime research environment at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Together with NTNU, Zeabuz has already developed an autonomous test ferry that runs in Trondheim, Norway. The project in Stockholm will be the world’s first autonomous ferry in commercial operation.

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