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Norway Orders World’s First Battery-Power Autonomous Ferries

battery electric autonomous ferries
Fjord1 will build four ferries fully battery powered and capable of autonomous operations at Turkey's Tersan Shipyard (Fjord1)

Published Feb 28, 2024 5:46 PM by The Maritime Executive

Norway looks to be at the forefront in the development of new maritime technologies both to advance decarbonization and to increase the operating safety and efficiency of vessels. Designs have been completed and an order was placed for four fully battery-powered RoRo ferries that will also be capable of fully autonomous operations as part of a program sponsored by the Norwegian Public Road Administration. 

Fjord1, operator of a large fleet of ferries and passenger boats providing domestic transportation in Norway, won the contract with the Road Administration and has ordered four double-ended ferries to be built by Turkey’s Tersan Shipyard. They are due to enter service by September 2026 and begin a phased-in approach to certify fully autonomous operations over the next two years.

“It was very important for Fjord1 to win this development contract where the Norwegian Road Administration saw a requirement to develop the green ferry industry one step further with requirements for an increased degree of autonomy and automation through the use of new technology,” said Nils Kristian Berge technology and project director at Fjord1. “We have a good concept that we look forward to realizing.”

Designed to operate with autonomous navigation and a high degree of automation of vessel functions, the ferries will be able to replace manual operations. According to Fjord1, the implementation of the automation functions and autonomous systems, including autocrossing and autodocking, will take place in 2027, while autonomous navigation will be implemented in 2028.

Each of the ferries will have space for 120 vehicles and loading ramps at both ends. They will be fully electric-powered with a large battery power system. They are for the route crossing the Sognefjorden approximately 60 miles to the north of the city of Bergen on the western coast of Norway. The ferries will operate between the town of Lavik and Oppedal. 

Fjord1 and Tersan have a long history of working together to build pioneering ferries. The yard is currently working on three electric ferries that will be delivered this year for operation in the Vestland region of Norway. 

Tersan predicts that the new battery and autonomous ferries will revolutionize coastal transportation.