“Parking aid” for ships - successful test campaign in Wilhelmshaven completed
During a three-day test campaign, the first system tests within the “SmartKai” project were successfully completed. The scientists were able to gain new insights for further research and development of the innovative assistance system.
In ports and locks, areas that are difficult to view or hydrodynamically demanding often threaten the smooth running of ship maneuvers. In some cases, rapidly changing environmental conditions make important navigational decisions more complicated for the ship and its crew, even for personnel with local knowledge. Furthermore, especially in tidal harbors like Cuxhaven, water depths fluctuate with the tides. In these harbors, safe maneuvering is only possible if the water level is appropriate. Increased traffic volume also poses an additional risk of damage to ships and port infrastructure.
The SmartKai project aims to develop a digital assistance system to counteract these risks and dangers. A novel, laser-based sensor system is to be installed at port entrances, locks or quays. The assistance system provides a consistent situation picture via an interface. Pilots and ship's crew can use the system efficiently via a tablet, the so-called Pilot Portable Unit, directly on the ship's bridge, and thus maneuver the ship safely in confined spaces. By increasing safety during precise berthing and unberthing maneuvers and when passing narrow entrances and locks, damage to ships and port infrastructure will be avoided in the future.
OFFIS – Institute for Information Technology researches on concrete simulation methods and the design of testbeds to prove the reliability and trustworthiness of future highly automated maritime assistance systems for their certification. In the research project SmartKai, the application of these methods is demonstrated using the example of the development of an innovative docking assistance system, which is tested by OFFIS during the test campaigns. The regulations of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as well as the practical requirements of active pilots will be considered. Important test criteria for a digital maritime assistance system include its accuracy, integrity, availability and reliability to support pilots and ship personnel in future maneuvers.
So far, more than 20 scenarios have been derived and developed, which were recorded during the first successful field test. The project partner Sick AG, a leading international sensor manufacturer, has designed a so-called LiDAR sensor system and installed it in Wilhelmshaven on the Hanover quay. The tests were carried out with the OFFIS research vessel "Josephine" and simultaneously with the survey vessel "Argus" from the fleet of the port infrastructure company Niedersächsische Häfen (NPorts). NPorts is coordinator of the "SmartKai" project and is particularly interested in preventing future damage to the port infrastructure. The software developer Humatects GmbH based in Oldenburg is another project partner and realizes the user interface for pilots and bridge personnel.
The test system and data recording ran reliably during the three-day campaign. The project participants agreed that the conditions are now in place to make the system on the Hanover quay winter-proof and storm-proof for the next six months. This will provide further insight into the reliability of the system under harsh winter conditions.
The project has a total duration of three years and will end in November 2022. During the next six months, the basic functions of the assistance system will be developed on the basis of the recordings of the first test campaign. In addition, work will be carried out on a new type of LiDAR sensor system that is specially designed for these maritime requirements. A first test run in Cuxhaven is already planned for the coming year, whereby hydrodynamic and meteorological conditions in particular are to be included in the conception of new test scenarios.
The "SmartKai" project is an application-oriented research and development project within the meaning of the Innovative Port Technologies (IHATEC) funding guideline of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI).