Zeabuz: Self-driving mini-ferries one step closer to marketisation

Published: January 6, 2020

Climate crisis may give rise to a new European industrial adventure.

Serial entrepreneurs and industry experts join forces to build new emission free mobility solutions for the world’s fast growing cities. The world is increasingly urbanized and most cities are located in coastal areas or along waterways. This requires that new transport solutions must be cost-effective, emission-free and will have to use the waterways, as opposed to congested highways and expensive bridges and tunnells.

NTNU is now spinning out a new company, Zeabuz, that will build mobility solutions on top of world-leading technology expertise. Former DNV GL top executive Bjørn K. Haugland and three NTNU professors with long industrial and entrepreneurial experience are part of the team.

Illustration: Zeabuz

Zeabus aims to provide simple, environmentally friendly and relatively cheap transport of people via the waterway, as opposed to relying on densely packed roads or building expensive bridges and tunnels.

– Norway has a complete maritime cluster and together with NTNU’s world-leading expertise in digitalisation, automation and autonomy, we can create a new industrial adventure, says Haugland, CEO of «Skift Business Climate Leaders» and chairman of the new company to TU.no (article in Norwegian).

Zeabuz will sell autonomous mobility services to both cities and settlements along the coast, and will ally with strong Norwegian and international partners in designing and building the ferries themselves. The Zeabuz ferries will be small, electric and on-demand.

– 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, in a press release.

NTNU has been researching ship control and autonomy for many years, and the Norwegian industrial adventure concerning dynamic positioning of ships started at NTNU. Today, this has given rise to a multimillion dollar industry centered in Norway.

The research on autonomy and mobility solutions, including the research project Autoferry and the autonomous ferry milliAmpère with Professor Egil Eide at the forefront, forms the basis for the new company.

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