Testing of autonomous shipping enters the next phase

Christening of new research catamaran - Anschütz develops autonomous navigation systems

Autonomous shipping on the Kiel Fjord is one step closer: with the christening and the launch of MV Wavelab at the Gebr. Friedrich shipyard on February 22, the research project "Förde Areal" has reached its next milestone. MV Wavelab is the largest research ship for autonomous shipping in Germany, in accordance with class notations and with fully type-approved equipment onboard. Anschütz, one of the industry partners, takes a leading role in designing future navigation systems.

Anschütz equips MV Wavelab with a state-of-the-art navigation solution, consisting of the integrated navigation system with radar and electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS), autopilot and track control systems, and a full suite of navigation sensors. Partners deliver additional research equipment including video cameras, light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensors, solid-state radars, and high-performance data links. Sensors are installed on a surrounding frame that allows to easily expand the sensors suite or exchange sensors. The system provides the data basis for all planned evaluations and research activities in the direction of assistance and automation systems.

Anschütz also sets up a shore-based control center with a digital twin of the ship. Providing high-level situational awareness through navigation displays and camera images, and featuring user interfaces for autopilot and machine control, the center allows to remotely monitor and control MV Wavelab.

In addition to the construction of MV Wavelab, the “Förde Areal” project partners establish a digital test field on the Kiel Fjord. Supported by a powerful and secure network infrastructure, the test field enables real-time communication between the ship and the control center on land. The data that MV Wavelab collects is used for the evaluation of extensive sensors, and for the development of software systems and functions for (partially) autonomous shipping. Autonomous navigation – under the supervision of a captain in the beginning – will also be tested on the closed-off water surface to gain practical experience regarding remote monitoring, control, and assistance.

“Förde Areal” is a project of the “Clean Autonomous Public Transport Network” (CAPTN) initiative. The CAPTN initiative has the vision to develop autonomous, safe and sustainable public transport systems. As CAPTN strives to connect the east and west banks of Kiel with autonomous, low-emission passenger ferries, a network of companies and universities develop and research necessary technologies within a number of individual projects funded by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV).

Anschütz partners in the “Förde Areal” project with the University of Applied Sciences of Kiel, Kiel University, the Wissenschaftszentrum Kiel GmbH and ADDIX Internet Services GmbH.