Estelle can take you across Stockholm's water with0ut a helmsman and by the sun's power
It’s certainly not big, but it is special and it is another marker in the sand for autonomous shipping. Estelle is the name of an autonomous eventually unmanned (though there will be one safety person onboard) ferry that will shuttle between two of Stockholm’s islands (it’s also the name of a Swedish princess).
The project is the work of two Norwegian companies, Zeabuz and Torghatten, the first being the developer of autonomous shipping solutions and the latter a well-known ferry operator around its home country.
The joint venture, Zeam (because it means zero emissions autonomous mobility) will run the vessel between the Stockholm islands of Kungholm and Södermalm. It will run autonomously, albeit with human oversight, with solar panels capable of charging the vessels batteries.
The concept for the vessel was launched in 2017, through Norwegian research university NTNU, when the idea of a vessel was launched for Trondheim. Zeabuz was formed from the university work to begin commercialization of these autonomous ideas, the company calls them smart navigation solutions. These resulted, through project work to two vessels, Milliampere and Miliampere2, in Trondheim, and now Estelle.
Erik Dyrkoren, Zeabuz CEO and co-founder said Zeam has been working closely with telecom operators to ensure a high level of connectivity. He also added that Estelle has been designed to operate efficiently – open side design for example means less wind resistance and less electricity use per voyage.
There are also high levels of safety in place such as if connectivity is lost the vessel will stop moving, as well as be able to recalculate the short distance between the two embarkation points depending on the wind, current and any surrounding vessel activity.