Listing of pilot and research projects in the field of automated navigation

In 2018, the CCNR adopted an initial international definition of levels of automation in inland navigation (Resolution 2018-II-16). The CCNR has charged its Police Regulations Committee monitoring developments in automated navigation (from navigation assistance to fully automated navigation) and considering the possible need for regulatory measures.

The CCNR Secretariat publishes below a list of the relevant national and international of projects including the assessment of the specific level of automation.

Project stakeholders are invited contact the Secretariat ( to modify or add information regarding on-going projects on automation in inland navigation.


Ref. no.
Pilot project name
Project sponsors
Work duration
Degree of
Brief description
“Guidance and assistance system for increasing the safety of navigation on inland waterways”
Consortium comprising four public and private organisations:
- in-innovative navigation GmbH,
- WSV,
- Alberding GmbH
2015-2018 DE 1 Advanced assistance system with 4 features:

• The bridge collision warning system provides timely warning to the vessel’s master in the event of a problem when passing beneath a bridge.
• The berthing assistant displays distance measurements and calculations relative to the quayside or other vessels, thereby assisting the boatmaster during a difficult berthing manoeuvre.
• The track control assistant assists the boatmaster by maintaining the vessel on a predetermined track when travelling through a sector.
• The control screen permanently displays all the vessel’s movements, the rudder position and speed of the propeller.
2 Shipping Technology
(Shipping factory / Xomnia)
Shipping Technology
(Shipping factory / Xomnia)
2016-… NL 4 Use of (existing) nautical equipment for collecting on-board data and building a predictive model to enable automated navigation based on artificial intelligence (AI).
Released base product: Black Box Pro which collects all the data from nautical systems such as radar, pilot, motor management, and GPS, and stores it in the Cloud. + storage of camera images and mariphone.
With all this data, provide insights through a dashboard into the day-to-day business process and the possibility to reproduce what happened at historical events such as collisions, groundings etc. etc.
Future applications (which run on the Black Box Pro): collision detection static, collision detection dynamic, autostowage, semi-autonomous shipping (based on Deep Learning Algorithms).
Live testing predictive models already on existing ship (Shipping Factory) in the Netherlands
3 Zulu 3, Zulu 4 Zulu Associates Vessels entering service in 2021/2022 BE 4 Zulu Associates is developing an autonomous barge with low to zero emission propulsion for navigation on European inland waters. The barge is called the X-Barge and is a CEMT class 4 barge. The aim is to prove that this type of vessel can operate on the Rhine in 2023 and to obtain the permit for permanent uncrewed commercial operation.
The consortium comprises 22 partners, logistics operators, industry, public bodies and research organisations

Coordinator: Netherlands Maritime Technology (NMT)
2017-2021 EU 3 Reorganisation of navigation with ship trains (platooning): 1 lead vessel + accompanying vessels (remotely controlled and with a reduced crew).

Areas of research interest are: business concept of the vessel train, waterborne transport system, composition and design of the vessel train, navigating and manoeuvring the vessel train, human factor, waterway infrastructure and operations, safety, regulations
5 Seafar Seafar NV, Port of Antwerp, De Vlaamse waterweg 2018-… BE 4 Since October 2019, tests have been carried out in the Westhoek on the Yzer and the Plassendale-Nieuwpoort canal with Watertruck X (CEMT class II – bulk) on behalf of Decloedt. The first few weeks were navigated with a full crew (phase 1). When the boatmaster has sufficient contact with the vessel, it was moved to the Remote Control Center (phase 2). A second boatmaster remained on board, along with the rest of the crew. The waterways were monitored from the SCC and more and more was controlled from the SCC itself. The boatmaster on board had ultimate responsibility and intervened when necessary. The modalities were laid down in an experimental agreement. Later, 5 changes were made to this via addenda:
1. Since April 2020, additional permission has been given to deploy two additional Watertrucks on the same route: Watertruck VII and Watertruck VIII. In phase 2 there was a separate skipper on the SCC for each vessel.
2. Since July 2020, permission has been given to switch to the first part of phase 3, where there is no crew. In phase 3a, testing is carried out with the permanent presence of a technical superintendent on the ship. The responsibilities of the technical superintendent, as well as those of the skipper in the SCC were laid down in an addendum to the experimentation agreement. For example, the skipper always had ultimate responsibility and the technical superintendent was not allowed to sail longer sections and only bring the ship to safety on the instructions of the skipper.
3. After Seafar completed a full year of testing in October 2020, they were granted an extension to test for an additional year.
4. Since March 2021, Seafar has received additional permission to operate at night and move to phase 3b: testing without crew on board, but with full control from the SCC. Seafar has developed safety procedures for this and they have tested them during the phase with crew on board so that the ship can continue to navigate safely once it navigates unmanned.
5. On October 18, 2021, the test was extended for another year.

Seafar and the Vlaamse Waterweg nv are in regular contact and each addendum was prepared via a project change application, an updated risk analysis, gap analysis and ConOps and various evaluation meetings.
Since April 2020, Seafar also received permission to navigate with a (different) Watertruck on the Leuven-Dijle Canal (on behalf of Celis). The actual tests only started at the end of October/November 2021. The phases that will be followed here are the same as for the tests in the Westhoek.
The Watertruck vessels are self-propelled barges, certified under Flemish regulations, in accordance with Article 24, second paragraph, of EU Directive 2016/1629 with regard to exemptions for vessels that travel limited routes of local importance or in port areas.
Testing with the aim of crew reduction

Since June 2020, Seafar has also been testing the vessel Gamma (CEMT class I - bulk), owned by Gitra BVBA, on the Bocholt-Herentals canal and the Brussels-Scheldt Sea Canal. This ship is manned: the boatmaster is always on board. The ship therefore navigates according to current laws and regulations. However, the ship is controlled from Seafar's SCC. The responsibility lies with the skipper on board. This project was completed at the end of 2021.

Since March 2021, the inland vessel Tercofin II (CEMT class Va - dry bulk/container) has been navigating between the Port of Antwerp and Liège, via the Albert Canal. There will always be crew on board, but control is with the SCC. The efficiency of the ship will be increased by supporting the ship's crew. This makes it possible to navigate for longer with the same number of crew members on board, without exceeding the navigating and rest times. Work was also carried out in two phases. In phase 1, the crew on board will consist of 1 boatmaster and 1 boatman instead of 2 boatmasters and 2 boatmen. The rest of the crew is located in the Seafar Remote Control Center. A team of 3 boatmasters and 2 traffic controllers in the Remote Control Center will be in control of the ship. A boatmaster and traffic controller in the Remote Control Center work in 8 hour shifts. The addendum to the experimental agreement allows the transition to phase 2 from March 2021. The vessel is currently navigating with one helmsman and two boatmen on board and one boatmaster is present in the SCC, who is responsible for the vessel.

Since February 2021, the container ship DESEO has been navigating between Zeebrugge and Antwerp. For this application, advice was given by the Vlaamse Waterweg nv, but the license itself was granted by the GNA, as the route to be navigated does not fall under the competence of the Vlaamse Waterweg nv. The ship is currently supported from the remote control center in Antwerp with a full crew on board. Since August permission from GNA to navigate the entire trajectory in control from SCC, but the full crew still remains on board. This project is also working towards crew reduction.
6 Autonomous shipping in the “Westhoek” KU-Leuven (Catholic University of Louvain), De Vlaamse waterweg, POM West-Vlaanderen 2017-2019 BE 4 Unmanned autonomous inland cargo vessel demonstrator. Tests with a scale model (1:8 of CEMT I) on the Yser in November 2018 and September 2019.
The project has been completed.
7 Towards Autonomous Inland Shipping KU Leuven 2017-2021 BE 4 PhD research project focusing on the modelling, identification, and motion control of unmanned inland cargo vessels. This project is now finished.
8 Feasibility study - Autonomes Fahren in der Binnenschifffahrt North Rhine Westphalia
Entwicklungszentrum für Schiffstechnik und Transportsysteme (DST)

Westdeutsches Kompetenzzentrum in Sachen Binnenschiff.
2018 DE - With automated and (partially) autonomous navigation in inland navigation, the following opportunities are identified:
- relieve the nautical personnel in the future and thus alleviate the shortage of skilled personnel
- transport costs would fall, and smaller ships with smaller lot sizes would also be economically viable.
- Accidents caused by human error could be avoided.
- The digitalisation and networking associated with autonated navigation would create the conditions for better linking of modes of transport to intermodal and integrated transport chains and increase the transparency of traffic flows.

According to the study, the Rhine-Ruhr region is ideally suited as a test field for automated navigation, as the waterway and port infrastructure offers different requirements: There are areas with little traffic as well as complex port areas. Ship owners, operators, institutes are also located in the region.
9 Hull-to-hull (H2H) Leuven, Mampaey, SINTEF 2017-2020 UE 3 The aim it is to develop a concept for hull-to-hull and hull-to-quay positioning. Positioning accuracy is a key element in developing automated vessels. H2H is intended as an open concept with standardised data exchange to enable different suppliers’ vessels, infrastructure and work together.
3 demonstrations were planned between until 2020: Norway, Netherlands and Belgium (specific to the navigable waterways).

The demonstration projects in Belgium will take place on 16 and 17 September 2020. On 16 September, a demonstration test will be carried out with a vessel from KU Leuven. The vehicle will drive through a lock using the Hull-2-Hull software. A crew will remain on board the vehicle.
In May 2021, a demonstration test for autonomous mooring took place in Mol. This will be carried out with a Zulu vessel from Blue Line Logistics. The technology for mooring was provided by Mampaey.
Hull2Hull is now completed.
10 Smart Shipping: Strategic Analyses in the Netherlands for Rijkswaterstaat Rijkswaterstaat 2018 NL - The objective of this research was to give a inside in the potential impact of Smart Shipping on the role and task of Rijkswaterstaat (the Dutch fairway authority). Three stages:

- perform a scenario study with potential future scenario's for society, based on current existing trends and developments. (timeframe 2030)

- research on the potential impact of these scenarios on the role and task of Rijkswaterstaat. Looking at for example fairway maintenance, traffic management and the possible changes of the (digital) infrastructure.

- identify possible measure or moves that Rijkswaterstaat could make on this moment based on the foreseen futures.
11 Test and control center for autonomous inland navigation vessels Development Centre for Ship Technology and Transport Systems (DST)
University of Duisburg-Essen

RWTH Aachen University

Transport Ministry of North Rhine-Westphalia
October 2020 (opening planned) DE - The Centre represents the essential research infrastructure for the subsequent research and development activities around autonomous inland shipping.
The centre encompasses amongst others:
• a modern, freely configurable control stand in a ship-piloting simulator with a 360-degree 3D projection system,
• a control center with three workplaces for the coordination of the mixed traffic with conventional and autonomous inland vessels, and
• four workplaces for research scientists containing the necessary computer equipment for the development of AI-based autonomous control systems.
12 AutonomSOW Alberding GmbH
LUTRA Hafen Königs-Wusterhausen
DLR Neustrelitz
Bundesverband Öffentlicher Binnenhäfen
2019-… DE - The project objective is the development of a concept for the establishment of a digital test field for inland navigation for automated and autonomous operation on the Spree-Oder-Waterway (SOW).

2019 Feasibility study for an automated and autonomous inland navigation trials area on the Spree-Oder waterway.
2019 Setting up of the trials area
202X Operating trials on the Spree-Oder waterway
13 Autonomous navigation on the Kiel Fjord
CAPTN – Clean Foerde-Areal

Forschungs- und Entwicklungszentrum Fachhochschule Kiel GmbH (Research and Development Centre Kiel University of Applied Sciences) 03/2021 - 03/2023 DE 3 The CAPTN (Clean Autonomous Public Transport Network) project concerns the development of an autonomous, integrated mobility chain by combining clean, autonomous bus and ferry transport for Kiel. The objective is to develop an innovative passenger ferry on the Kiel inner fjord. The passenger ferry is intended to act as a test bed for testing (partially) autonomous systems.
14 SCIPPPER, “SChleusenassIstenzsystem basierend auf PPP (Precise Point Positioning) und VDES für die BinnenschifffahRt”
Consortium seven private and public organisations:
- in-innovative navigation GmbH,
- WSV,
- DLR,
- Alberding GmbH,
- Weatherdock AG,
- Argonics GmbH,
- Bundesanstalt für Wasserbau (BAW)
2018-2021 DE 3 Development of an automated boatmaster lock entry and exit assistance system.
Provision of a shore-based server and of transmission infrastructure for integrating, validating and demonstrating the system
15 Captain AI Captain AI works together with the Port of Rotterdam, Watertaxi Rotterdam and Kotug
2018- NL 4 Captain AI is developing a safe and fully autonomous shipping solution using high-fidelity simulation, cutting-edge sensors and state-of-the-art deep learning techniques.
16 AMS Roboats Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)
Wageningen University and Research (WUR).
2016-2020 NL ? In the third research year activities will focus, among others, on:
- Upscaling navigation and autonomy to a 1:2 scale Roboat. Due to their size, these vessels have different dynamics and navigation behavior.
- Further developing the latching mechanism for 1:2 scale prototypes to latch individual vessels or dock them to the quays.
- Designing and refining the propulsion technology, the energy system and the electric charging technology for 1:2 scale prototypes.
- Further developing the water sensor technology in collaboration with Waternet.
17 Remote Control Tug Kotug, Alphatron, KPN, M2M Blue, Veth 2018 NL 3 Kotug can remotely control the RT Borkum. Studies the possibility of unmanned towing.
18 Sensing Marinminds 2018- NL 4 A broad range of new and existing technologies need to be integrated into one system. Project Sensing focuses on developing a prototype of an on-board sensor- and data acquisition system. With testing automotive grade sensors and object recognition software, gain insight in the required alterations and development of the algorithms for later use in autonomous systems
19 AURIS (AUtonomous Remotely monitored Innovative Ship) MARIN
2018-… NL 4 The objective of this project is to research which sensors and analysis methods are required to achieve optimal situational awareness of the marine environment from a ship, and to interface an (autonomous) vessel with a Shore Control Centre. This will be done by developing and testing a modular intelligent situational awareness module (ISAM) on a 6m rigid-hulled inflatable boat.
20 modular Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (mAUV)
MARIN 2018- NL 4 The objective of the mAUV v1.0 project is the development of a modular underwater vehicle (mAUV) hardware & software, including all a first approach for 6D control and allocation. It will be used for basin model tests at MARIN in 2019. In the coming years the model will serve as one of MARIN's underwater test platform for AUV research.
21 AUTOSHIP The consortium comprises industrial technology providers, logistics operators, public bodies and research organisations including: KONGSBERG Group, Blue Line Logistics, De Vlaamse waterweg, Bureau Veritas, SINTEF and University of Strathclyde.

Co-ordinator: Ciatech (PNO Group).
2019-2022 EU/BE 4 AUTOSHIP is an EU funded (Horizon 2020) project that will build and operate an autonomous barge and its needed shore control and operational infrastructure, reaching and going over TRL7. Testing will take place during a pilot demonstration in inland waterways near Antwerp in Flanders. This demonstration is intended for inland navigation. Another pilot demonstration will take place in Norway: an unmanned vessel will operate along a Short Sea Shipping route where it carries fish feed to the fish farms.

The project will speed-up development of the Next Generation of Autonomous Ships with the technology package including for example autonomous navigation, situational awareness, remote monitoring, electronic route exchange, as well as communication technology enabling a prominent level of cyber security and integrating the vessel into upgraded e-infrastructure. In parallel, digital tools and methodologies for design, simulation and cost analysis will be developed for the whole community of autonomous ships.

AUTOSHIP will help ship operators/owners to improve the profitability of their investments, to effectively gain competitiveness and renew their fleets, making them more competitive to replace road transport within the EU.

The project was started in 2020. In March 2020 visits to the test area in Flanders are organised as well as several workshops on communication, safety, interaction with infrastructure and other vessels. This information will feed into the further development of software and hardware.
An analysis of the current legislation (international and national legal aspects regarding the areas where the demonstrations will take place) is currently underway and will be completed shortly. Supply Chain Mapping has been elaborated for both vessels.
22 A-SWARM (Autonome elektrische Schifffahrt auf WAsseRstrassen in Metropolenregionen) BEHALA (Berliner Hafen- und Lagerhausgesellschaft GmbH)
SVA (Schiffbau-Versuchsanstalt Potsdam GmbH)
Technische Universität Berlin
Universität Rostock
Veinland GmbH
2019-2022 DE 4 The project is intended to contribute to modern city logistics on the basis of autonomous, connectable and electrically operated watercraft. The main focus is on the development and testing of autonomous watercraft, i.e. with the exception of GPS, without any significant land-based support. The feasibility of such a system is to be demonstrated by a demonstrator operation in a real laboratory in the area of Berlin's Westhafen (Spree / Charlottenburger Verbindungskanal / Westhafenkanal/ Berlin Spandauer Schifffahrtskanal)
23 AKOON (Automatisierte und koordinierte Navigation von Binnenfähren) RWTH Aachen University
Voith GmbH & Co
Rheinfähre Maul GmbH
in - innovative navigation GmbH
2019-2022 DE 4 The experimental craft in the AKOON research project is the ferry "Horst" of the company ferry Maul, which operates near Mainz between the towns of Oestrich-Winkel and Ingelheim.
Due to narrow passages, sandbanks and strong currents, the area of operation is considered particularly challenging, especially at low water levels. Such difficult conditions take the ferry drivers of the Rhine ferry to the limits of their capabilities, which is why the automated operation of inland ferries can relieve the ferry personnel, especially in such exceptional situations.
The research project is intended to lay the foundations for full automation in inland navigation and act as a technology driver. Future developments in the field of ship assistance systems, especially in the area of inland navigation, are to be derived from this project in the future.
24 Prepare Ships ANAVS
Stena Line
2019-2022 EU 3 Prepare Ships is creating a smart positioning solution by developing and demonstrating a data fusion of different sensor and signal sources to enable a robust navigation application. The idea is that vessels with accurate positioning based on EGNSS, data and machine-learning should be able to predict future positions of nearby vessels. Besides a decreased risk for collisions, this also means additional benefits in the form of a more energy effective manoeuvring of the vessels, something which can also reduce the (negative) environmental impact of navigation.
25 Remotely controlled, coordinated driving in inland navigation – FernBin Consortium
Entwicklungszentrum für Schiffstechnik und Transportsysteme e.V. (Development centre for ship technology and transport systems) (DST coordinator) Dr.-Ing. Jan Oberhagemann
Argonics GmbH
Bundesanstalt für Wasserbau (BAW) (Federal Waterways Engineering and Research Institute)
Ingenieurbüro Kauppert (consulting engineers)
in - innovative navigation GmbH
Rheinisch-Westfälisch Technische Hochschule Aachen (RWTH Aachen University) Institut für Regelungstechnik (irt) (control systems technology)
University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE)
• Institut für Schiffbau, Meerestechnik und Transportsysteme (ISMT) (Institute of shipbuilding, marine engineering and transport systems)
• Lehrstuhl Steuerung, Regelung und Systemdynamik (SRS) (Faculty of control engineering and system dynamics)
• Lehrstuhl für Mechatronik und Systemdynamik (IMECH) (Faculty of mechatronics and system dynamics)

Associated partners Imperial Shipping Rhenus Partnership
Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR)
07/2020 – 12/2023 DE 3 Remotely controlled driving is an intermediate step on the way to automated driving. The FernBin project develops all the necessary components and requirements for a remotely controlled inland navigation vessel to achieve the same transport performance and traffic safety as vessels steered conventionally from aboard.

This enables two broader objectives to be achieved: the shortage of boatmasters can be mitigated on the one hand by making the boatmaster profession more attractive once again for young people while on the other hand the use of assistance systems to steer craft affords the prospect of fewer boatmasters being required than there are craft. Remote control also enables smaller craft to be operated economically, enabling new logistics concepts to be implemented, thereby enabling freight transport movements to be switched to inland waterway transport.
Various steps are required to deliver this project. In the first instance these include the corresponding technical wherewithal for remotely controlling craft. This encompasses the necessary sensors and actuators together with the associated interfaces, the shore-based remote steering position, the data protocol for ensuring robust and secure data transmission, channel guidance and collision warning assistance systems and a central control centre for monitoring and guidance functions.
Implementing the assistant systems includes forecasting other traffic participants’ boat handling, especially in running water. The central parameters to take into consideration here are first and foremost the vessels’ manoeuvring characteristics and other boatmasters’ behaviour.
The objective is an adaptive navigation system that responds dynamically to the surrounding traffic and processes traffic information in real time. It supports the remotely controlling boatmaster by forecasting and visualising the spatial requirements for encountering other vessels and
displaying the boatmaster’s possible options in a “predictive mode”. It thereby enables him to navigate his own vessel safely and reliably as dictated by other traffic participants’ behaviour.
in preparation
Smart decision-making support for inland navigation logistics chains based on ETA forecasts
TU Berlin Logistics Faculty,
BEHALA Berliner Hafen- und Lagerhausgesellschaft mbH,
Deutsche Binnenreederei AG, Duisburger Hafen AG,
Imperial Shipping Services GmbH, modal 3 Logistik GmbH

Associated partners: Contargo GmbH & Co. KG, HVCC Hamburg Vessel Coordination Center GmbH, Rhenus PartnerShip GmbH & Co. KG
1.3.2020 – 28.02.2023 DE - The project aims to develop an IT system for port operators and shipping companies that automatically and dynamically forecasts inland navigation vessel transport processes and thus their arrival times (ETA) at both inland and seaports and which, based on this, at system level, generates situationally specific recommendations for action for waterborne transport and port transshipments, and enables this information to be exchanged digitally between the players
27 AutoBin
Autonomous inland navigation vessel – simulation and demonstration of automated driving in inland navigation
Entwicklungszentrum für Schiffstechnik und Transportsysteme (DST) (Development centre for ship technology and transport systems), University of Duisburg-Essen
10/2019 – 09/2022 DE - The project will entail equipping an inland navigation vessel with all the necessary sensor and actuator technology. A first stage will see an artificial intelligence-based control system in a simulator developed through machine learning to the point of being able to steer the inland navigation vessel safely from a departure point to a destination having regard to the traffic situation and rules of the road. Learning in the simulator is followed by the testing and demonstration of the control system fitted in the inland navigation vessel on a preselected test stretch
28 Marine Litter Hunter DEME October 2020 – October 2021 BE 5 Since October 2020, DEME has been testing the autonomous vessel Marine Litter Hunter (MLH) on the Temse-Bornem Scheldt bridges. In a first phase, testing was done with crew and since March 2021 the vessel has switched to unmanned operation. The MLH now sails autonomously and takes certain actions itself in case of problems. In case of unforeseen problems, a supervisor can provide assistance if necessary.
The set-up consists of a combination of a fixed installation that continuously removes 'passively' floating waste from the water and a mobile system (the MLH) that 'actively' collects larger floating debris, which can be harmful to navigation in the Scheldt. This large floating debris is detected by smart cameras (AI) installed on the old Temse bridge near the navigation channel. The waste collects in the collection pontoon and is regularly transferred into a container by means of a crane equipped with a grabber. The fixed crane is remotely controlled by an operator, using VR-3D-vision technology. When the container is full, the MLH autonomously brings it to the docking station, where the container is unloaded by a transfer crane on the Belgomine quay. The waste is then transferred to a waste container of De Vlaamse Waterweg nv.
29 ETN-SAS KU Leuven and others Novembre 2018 – octobre 2022 BE, UK, FR, NL, DE / Autonomous systems offer humankind tremendous opportunities, like freeing us from mundane tasks, carrying out risky procedures and generally giving us more time to enjoy the things we like doing. However, we lack trust in many forms of autonomous systems: partly this is human nature, but primarily because these systems, such as self-driving cars, have not demonstrated their safety credentials. Only by making these systems safer can we expect their widespread acceptance. The Safer Autonomous Systems (SAS) ETN is about getting people to trust these systems by making the systems safer. In order to achieve this objective and to train a group of highly skilled, responsible, future innovators, we will bring together 15 early-stage researchers (ESRs) to investigate new forms of system-safety engineering, dependability engineering, fault-tolerant and failsafe hardware/software design, model-based safety analysis, safety-assurance case development, cyber-security, as well as legal and ethical aspects. SAS will actively research the development of safer autonomous systems at multi-nationals like Bosch, but it also wants to stimulate the development of new safety designs, modelling and assurance techniques by involving the ESRs in SMEs and, potentially, their own start-ups. To help the ESRs put what they have learned during their research and S/T training into practise in their future careers, they will also receive soft-skills training to help them communicate effectively at all levels and become sought-after recruits. SAS is closely aligned with the high-priority areas of the EU, addressing many Horizon 2020 thematics, e.g. Industrial Leadership (Advanced manufacturing and processing), Societal Challenges (Smart, green and integrated transport; Secure, clean and efficient energy) and Excellent Science. But the most important output of SAS will be 15 well qualified people who have been trained to tackle many of the problems now being faced by European industry.
One of the case studies is about autonomous vessels.
30 ETN AUTOBARGE KU Leuven and others ? BE, NL, NO, SE, DE / The European training and research network on Autonomous Barges for Smart Inland Shipping will:
• Build-up a highly skilled workforce for the autonomous inland waterway transport sector;
• Further develop the essential building blocks of the SUDA-model of an AV (Sense the environment, Understand the environment, Decide about the next action/ maneuver to take, Act according to that decision) that are needed for an autonomous vessel to take over the role of the human captain and crew;
• Address the many other socio-technical, logistic, economic, and regulatory conditions that need to be met for the successful and future-proof implementation of autonomous vessels in the inland-waterway transport sector
31 HANNAH Unleash Future Boats GmbH, Schleswig 08/2021 - 12/2022 DE 3 The HANNAH (High Autonomous Navigation with Artificial Horizon) project is developing an innovative sensor system that will enable reliable object recognition (on the water and navigational signs) and generate an artificial horizon. Future Schleiboote (= autonomous craft being developed on the Sly Firth on the Baltic coast) are intended to be capable of autonomous and multimodal operation.
32 ELLA Entwicklungszentrum für Schiffstechnik und Transportsysteme (DST), Duisburg (Development centre for ship technology and transport systems) 06/2021 - 06/2023 DE 3 Led by the Development centre for ship technology and transport systems (DST), the ELLA project (Scale model development platform for steering automation) is developing a floating 1:6 scale test bed intended for use as a development and testing platform for automated steering-related issues. A digital test site is to be set up on the Dortmund-Ems canal on the stretch between the port of Dortmund and the lock at Waltrop.
33 SPS, Smart Port Shuttle, Hildesheim BANLabs GmbH, Berlin 06/2021 - 06/2023 DE 2 The SPS (Smart Port Shuttle) project concerns the creation and evaluation of a holistic concept with a view to automated shuttle service using lighters on the Hildesheim branch canal. The joint project is intended to test a navigation system in conjunction with a logistics concept.;
34 DigitalSOW - Digital test site for automated and autonomous inland navigation on the Spree-Oder-Waterway (SOW) Alberding GmbH, Wildau 06/2021 - 06/2023 DE 3 The DigitalSOW project aims to develop and commission a digital test site for automated and networked navigation on the Spree-Oder-Waterway. The objective is to investigate the motion behaviour of variable, highly automated, pushed convoy configurations.
35 eFTIbarge - Development of an open ecosystem for exchanging electronic freight information in inland navigation IBM Deutschland GmbH 08/2021 - 08/2022 Led by IBM, the one-year “eFTIbarge” project (integration of inland navigation with modern digital data exchange) is developing and testing an automated innovative messaging platform. The existing “TradeLens” supply chain platform is to be enhanced for the exchange, analysis and prediction of relevant Inland navigation freight information.
36 AEGIS SINTEF Ocean (Coordinator), DFDS, North Sea Container Line, MacGregor, Cargotec, Aalborg Havn Logistik, Trondheim Havn IKS, Vordingborg Havn, Grieg Connect, Danmarks Tekniske Universitet, Institut für Strukturleichtbau und Energieffizienz GmbH, Aalborg Universitet 2020-2023 EU, NO, FI, DK, DE 4 The central objective of the Horizon 2020 project AEGIS is to develop a new waterborne transport system for Europe that leverages the benefits of ships and barges while overcoming the conventional problems like dependence on large terminals, high transhipment costs, low speed and frequency and low automation in information processing. To achieve this objective, AEGIS will leverage a multidisciplinary team to integrate new innovations from the area of Connected and Automated Transport (CAT), including more diverse sizes of ships and more flexible ship systems, automated cargo handling, ports and short sea shuttles, standardized cargo units and new digital technologies to design the next generation sustainable and highly competitive waterborne transport system in Europe.

AEGIS proposes a concept with more and smaller ships that can be used to increase frequency, differentiate speeds, reduce terminal costs and reduce time in port for the larger ships as they will not need to call smaller ports. Several smaller ships also increase reliability and resilience in the transport systems. Breakdown of one vessel has little impact on transport capacities. Automated cargo handling and standardized cargo units will further reduce problems and transhipment costs in ports and on ships. In addition, ships are most efficient when the cargo holds are full, so AEGIS also addresses how to attract new cargo, inbound as outbound, to waterborne transport. This requires new types of services, new business models, better logistics and more streamlined digital solutions.
37 CoboTank TÜV Rheinland Consulting
Support programme BMDV / IHATEC 2
07/2022 – 06/2025 DE 3 The project partners will develop a cobot (a collaborative robot) and a fully automated robot to support the handling of liquid cargo in inland tank terminals.
38 KoliBRI - Collision avoidance in inland navigation based on radar and the integration of other sensors Argonav GmbH (NAV),
Christian-Albrecht University of Kiel (CAU),
Argonics GmbH (ARG)
HGK Shipping GmbH
2022-2025 DE 3 Collision avoidance in inland navigation is to be investigated as part of the KoliBRI consortium project. This entails the development of an assistance system meeting all level of automation 3 requirements as defined by the CCNR. Within this project, the partner company Argonav GmbH (NAV) is concentrating on using sensors to capture the traffic situation, the Lehrstuhl für Automatisierungs- und Regelungstechnik (Institute for automation and control systems technology) at Christian-Albrecht University of Kiel (CAU) is researching new control systems strategies and cooperative-networked navigation, and Argonics GmbH (ARG) is addressing the development of a platform featuring the fundamental functionality for automated collision avoidance.
Level of automation 3 means the sustained context-specific performance by a navigation automation system of all dynamic navigation tasks, with the expectation that the human boatmaster will be receptive to requests to intervene and to system failures and will respond appropriately. This overarching objective encompasses strategies for avoiding collisions with other traffic participants, based both on changing the intended track of an automatic channel guidance system and changing the speed of one’s own vessel. The assistance system is intended to perform all dynamic navigation tasks involved in a journey autonomously. The boatmaster is there solely to act as a fallback for unresolvable tasks and possible system failures.
In addition to a non-cooperative system such as this, a further step will extend the argoTrackPilot automatic channel guidance system to include networking, which in conjunction with other traffic participants’ automatic channel guidance systems will enable a cooperative strategy for avoiding collisions on inland waterways.
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Safe, Efficient and Autonomous: Multimodal Library of European Shortsea and inland Solutions
Horizon Europe 2023-2027 FR 4+ The project aims to develop and adapt missing building blocks and enablers into a fully automated, economically viable and cost-effective waterborne freight feeder loop service for Short Sea Shipping (SSS) and Inland Waterways Transport (IWT).

The project will develop and integrate autonomous systems in a way that ensures safe, resilient and environmentally friendly operations to shift road freight movements towards waterways.

Its objectives are to:
1. Improve cost-effectiveness and safety of highly automated and autonomous port-side infrastructure in SSS and IWT
2. Simplify the deployment requirements and reduce the investment and safety risks of fully automated waterborne transport services
3. Develop and upscale sustainability-driver and autonomy-enabled business models for IWT and SSS
4. Provide full and seamless integration of the autonomous feeder system
into the digital transport ecosystem and promote synchromodality
5. Provide a list of recommendations and a roadmap to the legal and regulatory framework for SSS and IWT to make deployment safer and less costly and to reduce risks for early movers.
40 HaFoLa - Test centre for innovative port and handling technologies Development Centre for Ship Technology and Transport Systems (DST); University of Duisburg-Essen; Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Transport of North Rhine-Westphalia July 2020 – Dec 2022 DE The test facility focuses mainly on the research areas of port logistics and land-based activities in inland navigation. It comprises the so-called 'Port Automation Lab', an experimental hall in which the topography of a port is mapped and the crane/transhipment infrastructure including ship/container models is provided, and the 'Living Lab' "Digital Port", an experimental and interaction space for hardware and software developments in the context of future digitisation projects. HaFoLa is spatially and thematically close to the already existing VeLABi.
41 AVATAR (Autonomous Vessels, cost-effective trAnshipmenT,
wAste Return)
EU Interreg North Sea Region 05/2020 – 06/2023 BE, DE, SE, NL 2-3 The massive under-exploitation of inland waterways (IWW) in the North Sea Region, especially in and around urban environments, provides opportunities for technological innovations. The AVATAR project aims to deploy zero-emission automated vessels that can do hourly traffic between the Urban Consolidation Centers outside the city and inner city hubs, focusing on the distribution of palletized goods and waste return.

The AVATAR project aims to tackle challenges of city freight distribution by developing, testing and assessing adequate technologies and business models for urban autonomous zero-emission IWT. Through this, the project unlocks the economic potential of urban vessels and corresponding waterways, increases available solutions for full-cycle automation and sets up a sustainable supply chain model for urban goods distribution and waste return.

Project focus:
- Development of prototypes of automated to autonomous ship units
- Development of remote monitoring and control concepts
- Development of use cases and business cases for use in an urban context
- Analysis of the political and legal framework for the deployment of autonomous ship units in the participating regions
- Performance of pilot tests
42 SAFEBin
Methods for the safe design of automation and remote monitoring in inland navigation
Consortium of three public and private organisations:
2022 - 2025 DE 1-5 Development of basic principles for the risk assessment of systems for automated ship navigation on inland waterway vessels with regard to their interaction with the overall system.
43 AUTOFLEX European Commission 01/2024-12/2026 EUR 3 The AUTOFLEX project, funded in Horizon Europe, aims to facilitate the transition to climate-friendly, flexible, and resilient transport by means of small, autonomous, zero-emission inland vessels and novel multimodal transport concepts. New autonomous inland cargo vessels are being developed that can reliably carry out transport services in small waterways, even in confined waters and in extreme-low water situations. Further, new distribution hubs are designed as an interface to road transport, which will ensure both cargo transshipment and zero-emission energy supply for the ships and trucks at the same time. With the help of two use cases (one situated in the Randstad region in the Netherlands and another one in the Belgian city of Ghent), the concepts of the multimodal transport system and the new inland vessels will be validated, a roadmap for exploitation of the project results established, recommendations to policy and industry made, and interface standards proposed.
44 FOREMAST European Commission 01/2024-12/2026 EUR 3 The FOREMAST project aims to undertake focused research in Small Flexible Automated Zero-emission (SFAZ) design and coherent solution components, to test and demonstrate the SFAZ vessel concept in the FOREMAST Living Labs (LLs) in virtual and real-world environments, to examine the techno-economic aspects of SFAZ vessels in smart, competitive and green transport systems, and to accelerate the wider deployment of SFAZ vessels.
45 EcoBin Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz (Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection) 01/2024-12/2026 DE 2 The overarching goal of the EcoBin project is to exploit the savings potential through optimized, energy-efficient operation of inland vessels. This is primarily achieved through the further development of a track-keeping assistance system for energy-optimized navigation on waterways, dynamically taking into account the current planned arrival time, the dynamic characteristics of the vessel, and the external influences of the waterway and traffic on the power requirements.
Last updated: 02.07.2024