Project Update: SHIFTR

4 minutes
March 30, 2023
In a collaborative project with Aarbakke and Norled, SEAM is currently working on the development of SHIFTR – an autonomous battery swap robot for express boats.

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The concept, which was originally called ‘Autonomous Battery Swap’ by Norled, has been under development since the fall of 2020.

The solution will be able to not only maintain the high speed of an express boat, and similar vessels, but also provide a more even and pragmatic approach to charging batteries at quay.

SHIFTR is a robotic charging station that swaps out batteries on the vessel while at quay. One part stands permanently on the quay, with its own battery station. The other is mounted on the boat, with two or more battery packs on a carousel.

The system is designed to be able to swap out two empty batteries with fully charged batteries in about three minutes, with the vessel now ready for approximately 30-45 minutes of sailing in 30 knots.

A new era of charging solutions

Svein Johnny Naley is the Project Manager for SHIFTR at SEAM. Photo: SEAM AS

– With this system, you can electrify both new and existing vessels, without having to install big, heavy, permanent battery packs on each boat. Lower weight gives lower energy consumption, which in turn gives greater environmental advantages and lower operating costs, says Project Manager at SEAM, Svein Johnny Naley.

Aarbakke is currently building a prototype of the system, to which SEAM will deliver in-house developed control system, as well as four 1MWh battery containers, vessel carousel with automation systems, cooling/heating systems, and more. The system is being prepared for delivery and installation for the Sogneruta connection in Sogn og Fjordane Route package 2.

SEAM is currently working on the battery carousel that will be mounted on the vessel. Photo: SEAM AS

- We have already completed in-house testing of the control system, but we will be running additional tests with Aarbakke at Bryne, Stavanger this spring, Naley, explains.

SEAM will be completing tests together with Aarbakke during the spring of 2023. Photo: SEAM AS

In addition to Route package 2, four 2nd generation SHIFTR systems will also be installed at Aker Brygge, Nesodden, Slemmestad and Drøbak in Eastern Norway during 2024, servicing vessels Baronen and Baronessen. 3-4 SHIFTR systems will also be installed on the Trøndelag route area 1 during 2024.

SHIFTR will also be installed at Aker Brygge in 2024. Illustration: Norled AS

The concept was originally designed for the express boat segment, but the team is also looking at other segments where this system could be beneficial.

Collaboration is key

Chief Operations Officer at SEAM, Otto Koch, believes collaborative projects like this are important ways in which the industry will achieve zero emissions.

– We have to be able to think in different ways, challenge and help each other. The industry has proven that it’s possible to achieve zero emissions in many different areas, and when we come together with our different areas of expertise, anything is possible. This is especially true considering the milestones achieved in ferry operations. We are very proud to be partners with Aarbakke and Norled in the development of this exciting solution.

The SHIFTR carousel at SEAM HQ at Karmøy, Norway

Read more about the Autonomous Battery Robot project.

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