Buffalo Automation, the secretive American artificial intelligence company, and Future Mobility Network, the European alternative transportation operator, have launched Europe’s first fully autonomous robotaxi service in the Netherlands.
The robotaxi service is the first of its kind on many fronts. It is an autonomous electric ferry that is solar-powered and can be hailed with a ridesharing app, but most notably, it is commercially deployed – currently carrying passengers in dense European traffic. The launch has made the alternative possibility of using shared access autonomous electric vehicles as an affordable and environmentally friendly means of transport, a reality.
The ferry service dubbed ‘Vaar met Ferry’ is subsidised by the Dutch provincial government and will be cost-free for residents until October 2021. Warmond-Kagerzoom, Leiderdorp and the nearby golf course now have a better connection, especially for bicyclists and pedestrians, to the Koudenhoorn recreation area.
Buffalo Automation CEO Thiru Vikram says, “From its inception, Buffalo Automation’s goals have been to improve safety and decarbonise the water through the use of our technology. This project was made possible because of like-minded local community and business leaders who are open to exploring alternative transport models. This historic launch will solidify our commitment to providing the people of South Holland a safe, clean energy means of transportation that protects their numerous blueways and natural resources. Launching this electric robotaxi service, which is powered by our Greycraft technology, on a European river has been an exciting undertaking for our operating field teams. We’re happy that Dutch officials as well as the folks at FMN and NGS share our vision and look forward to more planned launches across the pond.”
Municipality of Teylingen, South Holland’s Alderman Heleen Hooij, a champion of green technology, is enthusiastic about the benefits of this ferry. “It is special that the municipality of Teylingen has the scoop: a self-propelled ferry!” she says. “Nice that we can use this innovative ferry service, planned and implemented by one of our residents, this summer. And fantastic that students from Delft on de Groote Sloot may find a learning ground for their projects. I am very proud that this ferry is going to transfer pedestrians and cyclists as a pilot project. If it turns out that the ferry is a success, it can contribute to sustainable access between the recreational areas of Kagerzoom and Koudenhoorn.”
Shared access to the self-driving electric ferry is a core concept in Buffalo Automation’s commitment to ensure that boating is not always geared toward the top-tiered elite. It brings the yachting lifestyle to the masses, democratising transportation regardless of a person’s level of navigation expertise or financial ability to own a vehicle, while safeguarding the environment.