Rhine ferry ‘Horst’ to navigate its route autonomously
RWTH Aachen University wants to fully automate the busy ferry in a test run; partners from industry are also on board.2 Sep 2019 Roland Freist
‘Horst’ operates between Ingelheim in Rhineland-Palatinate and Oestrich-Winkel in Hesse and transports more than 600,000 people and 300,000 vehicles across the Rhine every year. In the project entitled ‘Automated and Coordinated Navigation of Inland Ferries’, or AKOON for short, it is now to be tested whether the ferry can navigate the constantly changing route autonomously, taking into account sandbanks, crossing ships, and changing current conditions.
For the test, the Rhine ferry will be equipped with new drive and control technology from Voith in Heidenheim, Baden-Württemberg. In addition, newly developed software will calculate the optimal route for each crossing. For location determination purposes, the ferry will be equipped with GPS and the software configured to track landmarks on the shore. Obstacles on the river will be located by a radar. Alongside RWTH Aachen University and Voith, software company in-innovative navigation and ferry operator Rheinfähre Maul are also involved in the research project. The aim is to reduce fuel consumption and increase safety. Automating ferries could also help solve the problems associated with the shortage of new ferry personnel.
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