About - Autoferry
The concept of small autonomous passenger ferries in urban areas is a more flexible, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly alternative to bridges or manned ferries. Autonomous ferries can also be coordinated with for instance autonomous buses in an urban intelligent transportation system, enabling reduced commuting time and improved quality of life for people living in cities.
Currently, there are a limited number of unmanned cable ferries at several locations in Norway. This project aims to remove the cable and enable such ferries to operate autonomously, which will open up new possibilities for both urban and coastal transport. In general, reducing the cost of ferry services using autonomous vessels will enable a revitalization and further development of coastal areas, where a large part of the Norwegian population lives. This also means that the development of autonomous ferries has the potential to create new markets which do not exist today due to high crew costs. Hence, autonomous ferries can be transformative both technologically, societally and in terms of new business opportunities.
The main hypothesis of the project is that such ferries can operate safely alongside other vessels in confined and congested environments such as urban water channels. Verifying this requires a broad multi-disciplinary approach, where the research methods combine theory, simulations and experimental testing and validation. Therefore, the project involves 19 researchers from three faculties and all three NTNU campuses. These have competence in the fields of control systems, autonomous systems, sensor fusion, robotic vision, instrumentation systems, communication systems, artificial intelligence, cyber security, risk management, power systems and human factors, constituting a unique multi-disciplinary project team, which is required to solve the challenges of this project.