Innovative Urban Mobility Solutions: an Autonomous and Electric Ferry
An innovative ferry in Norway will soon join a new generation of transport technologies that already includes electric bicycles, motorcycles, and scooters, among other vehicles.
While most of the 20th century saw the same urban transport technologies, based on the combustion engine that powered cars, motorcycles, and buses, the 2010s brought a slew of innovations in the field. Firstly, with the trend of electric vehicles (EVs) and the initial trials of self-driving cars, but also with new ways of sharing bicycles, motorcycles, and other modes of transport. All of them share flexibility, sustainability, and convenience as their common denominator. One of the latest examples in this trend is the Zeabuz ferry, a small electric-powered autonomous boat under development in Norway.
This innovative technology project has been designed with passenger transport in mind, thanks to its collision detection and monitoring systems. All of them belong to a platform developed by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). According to the company created as an offshoot, the Zeabuz can moor itself, collect passengers, and carry them safely around urban waterways. Its most prominent feature, however, is that it will be a zero-emission vehicle thanks to its electric power motor.
This innovative ferry will feature a host of technologies like cameras or radar and Lidar systems on its sides. The deck will also feature additional cameras and radar and Lidar systems together with a 5G antenna. The inside hull carries a computer and a set of batteries. The wireless charging system means that the ferry can operate on a 24/7 basis without human intervention. The team behind the Zeabuz is confident that they will be delivering the first test models to their clients throughout 2021.
Data analytics, the key to a new urban mobility model
Hardware is usually the most conspicuous element in the new age of urban transport. A self-driving car or a drone taxi are futuristic machines that unleash our imagination. One of the critical aspects of these new vehicles, however, is the software and communication protocols that will allow them to communicate between themselves and sensors deployed in the streets within the Smart City concept. Knowing the location of each vehicle, its status, or its availability will be crucial to improve motor sharing services.
The use of big data and analytics by ACCIONA’s motorcycle sharing services would be an example of these technologies in action. Such vehicles generate a data entry every minute, which means millions of listings every day. All this data allows establishing the areas with higher demand, which batteries need to be replaced or managing situations. Additionally, it will enable keeping track of the behavior of users, including peak demand hours, most common routes, and the average duration of each trip. These innovative technologies, used for self-driving cars and other vehicles, will allow improved management of traffic and available parking spaces.