DLR is planning to test autonomous inland barges
The German Aerospace Center wants to set up a test field in Brandenburg to research into new technology for autonomous freight ship operation and make human crews superfluous in the long term.26 Mar 2019 Roland Freist
This relates specifically to the Spree-Oder water highway between the ports of Königs Wusterhausen and Eisenhüttenstadt. Freight operations are to be trialed here in which small, flexible barges communicate with one another independently, calculate their routes themselves and even pick up and clear their load autonomously. The DLR has been working with partners for some time now on suitable assistance systems which, among other things, draw on satellite navigation systems such as Galileo. Currently researchers are developing a technology by means of which the ships can move in and out of locks automatically.
In the longer term, the plan is to integrate barges more closely into existing logistics chains. The aim is to move goods transport increasingly off the roads and onto the water. Until now, barges have mainly been used to carry mass goods like coal and metal ore and have therefore become increasingly wider and heavier in recent years. In future, smaller and more flexible models will be moving through the water, designed to transport standard containers.
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