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The Autonomous Electric Ferry Concept Glimpses the Future of Public Transportation

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In the future, even ferry travel could be autonomous—and electric.

A German initiative called CAPTN has designed an autonomous electric ferry concept called Vaiaro. Conceived in coordination with Kiel University, the ferry would travel across the bay that bisects the city of Kiel. The design prototype offers up a thrilling preview of what public transportation could look like in the decades to come.

CAPTN Vaiaro autonomous electric ferry concept

CAPTN Vaiaro autonomous electric ferry concept 

Technical details are scarce, but CAPTN—which stands for Clean Autonomous Public Transport Network—says the Vaiaro ferry will utilize an electric propulsion system allowing for quiet, emission free travel. It will also be self-piloted. The autonomous cruising would allow the ferry to operate continuously, ensuring that Kiel residents can easily cross the bay at any time of the day or night.

The two designs of the ferry concept are particularly striking. One shows a glass-enclosed rectangular vessel, with a dorsal fin that cuts right through the middle. The other looks like a ferry terminal, with striking latticework covering, that simply detaches from the dock and travels across the bay to the next landing area. Both designs also have room for bicycles, making it easy for passengers to get around the city without needing to get in a car or on a bus.

CAPTN Vaiaro autonomous electric ferry concept

Inside the Vaiaro 

CAPTN believes that either of the designs could drive visitor traffic to the city. “The new ferry will also create a new landmark for the city,” according to a YouTube video of the Vaiaro. “In the future, tourists will be told, if [you] go to Kiel, [you] definitely want to take the new ferry.”

The Vaiaro isn’t the first zero-emission marine concept we’ve seen in recent weeks. Late last month, Norwegian designer Kurt Strand unveiled a stunning 525-foot superyacht concept called Florida that’s powered by retractable solar sails that work even when there’s no wind.

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