AutoBin (Autonomes Binnenschiff) - Autonomous Inland Vessel - Simulation and demonstration of automated driving in inland navigation



Autonomous inland vessel - Simulation and demonstration of automated driving in inland navigation

The AutoBin project is a joint project between the Development Centre for Ship Engineering and Transport Systems and the University of Duisburg-Essen. It is funded by the European Union within the framework of the European Regional Development Fund (EFRE).

For regions with high economic power such as North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), a competitive and sustainable transport system is an indispensable location factor. In NRW, inland waterway transport plays a major role due to its systemic advantages of efficiency, safety and environmental compatibility. NRW accounts for around half of the 223 million t/a volume it generates in Germany. At the same time, inland waterway transport is facing major challenges:

  • The already existing shortage of skilled workers will become even more acute due to demographic change
  • The competing modes of transport, especially trucks, are rapidly advancing the development towards automated driving and reducing (personnel) costs
  • The freight structure effect requires small, flexible ships which cannot be operated profitably with the current crew size

The AutoBin joint project is trying to meet these challenges with the help of automated driving. The crew is relieved of control tasks and can thus be reduced. At the same time, automated driving can help prevent accidents due to human error and increase the safety level. In this way, the competitiveness of inland navigation can be sustainably strengthened.

In the project, an inland vessel provided by the associated partner Imperial Dry Bulk Shipping Lux S.à.r.l. will be equipped with the necessary sensor and actuator technology. A control system based on artificial intelligence will be developed in a simulator by machine learning to such an extent that it is capable of steering the inland vessel safely from a starting point to a destination, taking into account the traffic situation and traffic rules. After learning in the simulator, the control system is tested and demonstrated with the equipped inland vessel on a test field selected in advance.


Project duration:

36 Months (10/2019 – 09/2022)

Project supervisors at the chair of mechatronics:

Project partners

Participating chairs/ departments at the UDE:

Belongs to the profile focus of the Faculty of Engineering at the UDE:

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