Callboats: Autonomous passenger ferries in Helsinki
Electric and autonomous from A to B – it’s possible in Helsinki. Or at least almost. The self-driving solar boats from the company Callboats are being tested there. Due to the current legal situation, autonomous water taxis still have to be accompanied by at least one human crew member – but no longer by a captain.
The CAT 10 L boats offer space for around 30 passengers. In test operation, only ten passengers are currently allowed on board, according to media reports. The boat is powered by four electric motors with 10 kW each. The electricity comes partly from the 1.5 kW solar cells on the roof (around 8 to 10 kWh/day) and partly from the 60 kWh battery. The maximum speed of the autonomous ferry is 17 kph.
The goal is to reduce the price of passenger ferries. That is because the salary of the captains – of whom there are not enough anyway – accounts for up to 70 per cent of the costs.
The Callboats were tested for a year with a captain on board. Now, they are only controlled by a human via a radio link. They can be called by app and connect Helsinki with the islands of Kotiluoto, Villaluoto and Malkasaari.