Smart&Green Ship Rendering. Foto: Torqeedo

Autonomous driving in inland navigation: Torqeedo participates in the “Smart & Green Ship” research project

Torqeedo GmbH, the market leader for electromobility on the water, announced its participation in the joint research project “Smart & Green Ship” of the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE) and the Development Center for Ship Technology and Transport Systems (DST). The aim of the project is to significantly advance fully autonomous driving in inland shipping by researching versatile combinations of automation and emission-free drive systems. The construction of the 15-metre-long test platform required for this in the form of a highly efficient watercraft is being undertaken by the Felleryachting shipyard in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Many experts believe that autonomous ships will be the first vehicles in the world to reach level 5, i.e. full autonomy. According to experts, autonomous ships face different challenges than self-driving cars. Boats and ships on inland waterways usually travel at relatively slow speeds and there is less vehicle and passenger traffic. In addition, many inland vessels follow a relatively fixed route, which makes navigation easier than on land.

Fully automated river shipping as a trailblazer for a more environmentally friendly future for inland shipping

At the heart of the project is the development of a test platform: an inland waterway vessel with a catamaran-like exterior that will be able to transport both goods and people in the future. The two floats of the test platform, which support the hull above the water, are equipped with solar panels to keep the vehicle operational without any other source of energy while it is in port. The test vessel’s electric propulsion system consists of two 50 kW Deep Blue engines powered by four Deep Blue 80 batteries installed in the stern of the vessel.

“The modular design of the propulsion system and hull allows for easy retrofitting of additional green energy sources in the future, such as a fuel cell or a generator powered by sustainable liquid fuels,” explains Uwe Feller from Felleryachting. “The ship will also be equipped with all the necessary technical components to enable full automation of the journey – including lock passages as well as mooring and casting off maneuvers.”

The “Smart & Green Ship” is expected to be handed over to the project partners by Felleryachting in September 2024, after which it will be used in the one-year test phase in the Rhine-Ruhr test field.

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12.12.2023   |  

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