“Zeabuz” Is the Newest Norwegian Autonomous Ferry Startup, Will It Make It?

Zeabuz Ferry System 6 photos
Photo: Zeabuz
Zeabuz Ferry SystemZeabuz Ferry SystemZeabuz Ferry SystemZeabuz Ferry SystemZeabuz Ferry System
The world is changing. We can see that just by looking out the window, or a quick glance in a parking lot. Heck, just turn on the news, there’s some seed of truth in there somewhere. From electric and autonomous cars to climate change, it’s all happening.
But what’s bound to result from all this change? No one really knows. However, a team of Norwegian entrepreneurs, engineers, and experts in digitalization have got together to bring the next mobility solution that could even be applied outside the environment for which it is conceived.

What we’re looking at is called the Zeabuz, and is a startup project consisting of a fully autonomous and electric vessel. Now before you start thinking it’s just another concept, don’t. The Norwegian culture places a large emphasis on zero-emissions tech. With that in mind, know that this project does seem to have enough of a following to bring it to life.

For now, it can still be discussed as though it’s a concept because until it hits production stages, it still is. That said, let’s have a look at how this team is looking to change urban waterways. Remember, if this project takes off, it’ll be applicable to more than just Norway, as there’s plenty of cities that readily utilize ferry systems.

Zeabuz Ferry System
Photo: Zeabuz
This system is designed with two specific parts. The first is the actual ferry, while the main piece of the puzzle lies with the docking bay or remote-control center. What we see is a catamaran hull which should be perfect for calm inner-city waters. While on top, all we are offered is a frame, some windows to keep people from falling out of it, and your usual sitting and bicycle areas.

The frame is very similar to some superyacht designs you may have seen on our website. Futuristic and curved lines offer us a clean-cut vessel that looks straight out of a Sci-Fi flick. At the front and rear of the Zeabuz, we also see a couple of hatches that open for loading and unloading.

With the Zeabuz being an autonomous vehicle, it really has to perform flawlessly, as safety is a major issue when discussing an autonomous project. But don’t worry, this vessel is meant to be decked out with all the necessary tech to get your chicken self across the proverbial road. On top of the frame, at the highest point of the ferry, we can see a sort of antenna. This R2D2 look-alike could be considered just that, an AI. Here we are to find all sensors such as Radar, IR, RGB, and Lidar which feed real-time information to the AI and autopilot. A few more cameras throughout the ferry do exist to help offer an even clearer image of what’s happening around the vessel.

Zeabuz Ferry System
Photo: Zeabuz
In that hull I mentioned earlier, several other components are also found. The computer for the entire ship lies here, along with batteries and thrusters. There's also a huge wireless charging strip meant to charge the batteries while the ferry is docked for loading or unloading. The dock is also the place where travelers are to purchase tickets for their trip.

It’s a pretty neat idea to get an autonomous vessel out onto the waters. My only concern is the level of hurdles it might face along the way. From permits to design and application, fleet size, and general bureaucracy, the list of possible issues facing such an idea goes on and on.

Take the Einride for example. It’s even built and ready to be deployed, so why isn’t it on duty yet? Driving permits, that's why. Apparently, an AI needs that. So, fingers crossed for this silent city shark.
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About the author: Cristian Curmei
Cristian Curmei profile photo

A bit of a nomad at heart (being born in Europe and raised in several places in the USA), Cristian is enamored with travel trailers, campers and bikes. He also tests and writes about urban means of transportation like scooters, mopeds and e-bikes (when he's not busy hosting our video stories and guides).
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