on-demand water taxis without captains can soon become new regular transport in helsinki

on-demand water taxis without captains can soon become new regular transport in helsinki

On-demand water taxis as regular mode of transport in helsinki

 

Autonomous water taxis could soon become a regular mode of transport without a captain on board in Helsinki following boat company Callboats’ summer water vehicle service between islands. When regulations and concerns are ironed out, passengers in Helsinki can regularly board water taxis without an authority’s supervision and book transport to and from remote islands in the city.

 

The dubbed world’s first autonomous on-demand water taxis have been put forward and endorsed by Forum Virium Helsinki, the City of Helsinki’s innovation company. While the presence of autonomous water taxis in the country has been consistent, current legislation in Finland does not yet allow these water taxis to operate autonomously. It was in 2018 when government-owned Finferries successfully took an autonomous ferry trip from Parainen to Nauvo in Finland’s southwestern archipelago for the first time.

autonomous water taxis helsinki
images and video stills by Callboats

 

 

According to Forum Virium Helsinki, there needs to be at least one crew member on board the autonomous water taxis. On top of this, the price per trip may still not be affordable. In the summer of 2023, the City of Helsinki selected Callboats to operate the first regular route to the islands of Kotiluoto, North Villaluoto, and Malkasaari in East Helsinki, and the cost of a captain-manned boat trip may vary.

 

Another issue that may be looked into is a dire shortage of captains, but Managing Director Peter Ostberg from Mente Marine Callboats sees it as an opportunity. In a Helsinki Times report, he says that as much as 60–70% of the costs of archipelago transport come from the captains’ wages and that thanks to the autonomous operation, one captain could operate five Callboats, which would offer lower prices and more profit within the short season.

 

As soon as legislation allows remotely operated on-demand water taxis, Callboats and other boat companies may be able to freely supply a new means of public transport around Helsinki. As Senior Specialist Pekka Koponen of Forum Virium says, a system of autonomous on-demand boats is an important innovation that can significantly improve the accessibility of the archipelago. ‘Autonomous on-demand boats would be a more agile, eco-friendly, and cost-efficient way of transporting passengers to small islands, compared to ferry transport,’ he says in a report.

autonomous water taxis helsinki
CAT 6 by Callboats

 

 

Autonomous water taxi models of callboats

 

Callboats Managing Director Peter Ostberg tells designboom that ‘the reason why we started Callboats was to reduce emissions. A passenger boat often operates 1000 hours a year compared to 50 hours for a leisure boat, so the effect of electrification is 20-fold.’

 

The company has operated two models so far with another one on its way. CAT 6 was the very first one they built, which is an autonomous water taxi that could accommodate up to six people. Its entire roof is covered with solar panels which power up the water vehicle, and the specific model went on a commercial operation in Helsinki in 2020. Callboats says that it transported 7,000 people for two summer months with a supervising captain on board.

 

Alongside CAT 6, its sibling CAT 10 followed suit some time later. The bigger version of the catamaran can accommodate between 12 and 20 passengers at once with its ferry-like style, and its electric propulsion enables the autonomous water taxi to cruise at up to 6 knots. Its solar paneled roof is enough to electrify the water vehicle for up to nine hours. The other one on its way is a remodeled version of CAT 10. Named CAT 10 L, which can host up to 30 passengers and operate for longer periods between charging.

autonomous water taxis helsinki
CAT 6 can accommodate up to six people

autonomous water taxis helsinki
the roof of CAT 6 is topped with solar panels

callboats-world-first-autonomous-on-demand-boat-taxi-helsinki-designboom-ban

CAT 6 autonomous water taxi by Callboats

autonomous water taxis helsinki
CAT 10 L is underway as the next autonomous water taxi in Helsinki

autonomous water taxis helsinki
in summer 2023, CAT 10 operated as an autonomous water taxi with captain on board

autonomous water taxis helsinki
CAT 10 can accommodate up to 20 passengers

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Forum Virium Helsinki hopes to have a fully autonomous water taxi service available in the city

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