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Buffalo Automation launches “Vaar met Ferry” in Netherlands

Buffalo Automation has teamed up with European alternative transportation operator Future Mobility Network to launch an autonomous robotaxi service in the Netherlands.

I first wrote about one of Buffalo Automation’s initial US launch success back in December of 2020. Since that time, the team has been training its sights on breaking into the European market, where bike-ped culture is not only common, it’s a way of life. That’s why the transportation project has been subsidized by the Dutch provincial government, as a way to promote the autonomous electric ferry as an affordable and environmentally sound taxi alternative. By simply accessing a ridesharing app, pedestrians and cyclists are able to summon the robotaxi (cost-free for Dutch residents until October 2021) to get from place to place, similar to how the Queen City Bike Ferry operates in Buffalo’s Inner Harbor. The big difference is the AI technology that is utilized by Buffalo Automation (a Buffalo-based start-up). 

“From its inception, Buffalo Automation’s goals have been to improve safety and decarbonize the water through the use of our technology,” explains CEO Thiru Vikram. “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.”

“It is special that the municipality of Teylingen has the scoop: a self-propelled ferry!” says Municipality of Teylingen, South Holland’s Alderman Heleen Hooij, who is a champion of green technology. “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.”

Aside from the element of fun, easily accessing the water, and the environmental implications, the robotaxi democratizes transportation by making it affordable, while giving more people the ability to effortlessly ‘navigate’ waters. 

Anne Koning, Provincial Executive of South Holland, explains, “Because of the measures to contain the coronavirus, we are increasingly going out in our own country. As a result, the recreational pressure in our green areas has increased considerably. With a financial grant from the province of South Holland, we are realizing an extra connection to the island of Koudenhoorn. This is how we hope for a better spread of visitors, and we will ensure that recreants can also be safe this summer enjoy this beautiful area.”

Wouldn’t it be great to see one of these robotaxis out on the Buffalo River next year? Let’s hope that we can be one of the cities next in line to utilize this type of futuristic “Made in Buffalo” modes of transportation. After all, as Anne Koning so succinctly put it, it’s all about creating a better connection between people and waterfront destinations – isn’t that what we’re trying to do as well? At the least, shouldn’t we be heralding this company’s efforts, as it embarks upon these enterprising ventures?

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Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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