This electric autonomous ferry is the future of emission-free public water transportation!

Mobility and transportation are rapidly changing to become greener in an effort to reduce carbon emissions. From electric cars to sustainable yachts, talented teams are working in every transport category to provide a better alternative. One such project is the CAPTN Vaiaro which proposes two autonomous electric ferry concepts that offer a glimpse into the future of the industry. The team of designers developed CAPTN under the coordination of Kiel University in Germany because the concept was designed keeping the port city of Kiel in mind.

The city of Kiel is quickly turning into a bustling hub which is posing a challenge for city planners who want to make the public transportation network more efficient while still being aligned with the city’s climate goals. They are anticipating a spike in the ferry traffic between the west and east shores of Kiel Fjord and therefore need a solution that can keep up with the growth while also running on clean energy. Those two conditions are fulfilled by CAPTN Vaiaro, which stands for Clean Autonomous Public Transport Network, as it is specifically designed to integrate the ferry crossing into the city’s clean mobility network. The two different elements – the ‘floating platform’ and the ‘passage’ – allow for rapid carriage of buses and cyclists/pedestrians across the Fjord.

Using electric propulsion, the ferries make public transportation quiet and emission-free with electricity from renewable sources. The autonomous operation also will increase the frequency of service significantly. The ferry is designed to be available on-demand at all times, and operation is possible around the clock, every day, with integrated smart tech. The design addresses the entire mobility chain, specifically connections between bus and ferry services, to increase efficiency.

CAPTN’s team goes beyond the designers and includes several scientists and working groups from Kiel University, Kiel University of Applied Sciences, Muthesius University of Fine Arts & Design, as well as representatives from politics, administration, and industry. It also was one of the winners of the iF Design Talent Award 2020 and the jury described this project as one that takes a highly creative and innovative approach to public transport, imagining how a car-free city can nonetheless span two sides of a major waterway. CAPTN’s motto is ‘making innovations visible,’ and it shows!

Designer: Simeon Ortmüller, Vincent Steinhart-Besser, Yigang Shen, Jingyue Chen, and Tobias Gehrke

Be socially distant and still use public transport with this driverless tram!

Is anyone else feeling trapped because they are scared to use public transport? I don’t have a car because I have lived in a city all my life, so I could get everywhere using public transport but now with the pandemic going on I have been only going to places that are at a walkable distance and that really limits me. A design studio understood this problem and took it upon themselves to come up with an innovative solution for a crowded city like Hong kong – how can you make people comfortable with public transport again?

Answer: Island! This is a conceptual a double-decker driverless tram designed for the city of Hong Kong to be used in the post-pandemic era. Island is an exemplary blend of industrial design, transportation design, public design, urban mobility, and sustainability. Using public transport is crucial to keep pollution levels low especially when the virus going around attacks your respiratory system first. Making sure that public transport facilitates social distancing was also given the utmost importance during the design process. “We wanted to reimagine public transport in the post-COVID era from a prevention perspective. Especially in the densely populated city of Hong Kong, where social distancing is hard to achieve. The idea of designing a tram is no coincidence: trams are one of the city’s landmarks and the tramways celebrate their 115th anniversary this year. The concept of social distancing, which limits people’s freedom to move and interact became the design challenge and focal point for the new concept,” says the design team as they explained the process and challenges.

The driverless technology optimizes the interior space of the tram, making it easier to manage travel times and increase onboard safety. The design was named Island as the interior of the tram hosts large circular benches that let passengers practice social distancing and sit facing outwards in a radial pattern. The charcoal black walls and wooden floors add a luxurious touch that makes you want to use the public tram and feel comfortable while doing so. Its exterior aesthetic is inspired by the urban landscape of the iconic city that is known for its tall glass buildings. The curved windows and domed top allow plenty of natural light inside during the day while giving an unobstructed glimpse of the views at night while large vertical LEDs provide visibility in all weather conditions. It includes a retractable connector for rapid charging at tram stops. Even the stops have been created to replicate the minimal design with sleek and clean lines. It has been kept open on both sides to allow passengers to maintain more distance, move freely, and have natural ventilation for a healthier environment. Let’s rethink public spaces and use design to make them great (and safe) again!

Designer: Ponti Design Studio