What will it take for inland vessels to be able to navigate safely unmanned in the future? This question is being investigated by the recently launched research project DataSOW2, which was initiated by TITUS Research GmbH. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport as part of the mFUND innovation initiative with a total of 400,000 Euros.
An unmanned vehicle on the road can already draw on much existing data, which is essential for safe navigation without a driver. On the water, however, and especially in inland navigation, the data situation is still very thin. In addition, the increasing number of transport users on the water and their wide range – from SUPs to cargo freighters – pose a major challenge for autonomous ships in the future, so TITUS Reserch in a press release.
Research project aims to close data gaps
With its research project “DataSOW2”, TITUS Research GmbH has set itself the task of expanding the data basis already created in the previous project DataSOW1. While DataSOW1 focused on static infrastructure objects such as locks, bridges or navigation signs, DataSOW2 aims to collect data on mobile and temporary objects located on or in the water. In addition to ships, pleasure boats and swimmers, this also includes construction sites and fallen trees, for example. The existing sensor platform on the TITUS research boat is being expanded for this purpose.
The data will be collected on numerous measurement and test trips on the Spree-Oder-Wasserstraße (SOW) and on the Elbe-Lübeck-Kanal (ELK) and then made available. Project manager Ira Hüppe explains: “With the collected data, we can train AI models for the detection, classification and tracking of mobile and temporary objects in the water accordingly. In addition, we want to find out to what extent the data can be fused with those of other available data sources.”
Artificial intelligence to avoid collisions
The goal of the project is, on the one hand, to make the collected data available as a live map via an open platform. In addition, the TITUS research team wants to create the prerequisites for an assistance system that will detect and avoid possible collisions. This should be another important step towards autonomous inland navigation.
As part of the mFUND innovation initiative, the BMDV has been funding data-based research and development projects for the digital and connected mobility of the future since 2016. Project funding is supplemented by active professional networking between stakeholders from politics, business, administration and research and by making open data available on the Mobilithek. Further information can be found at www.mFUND.de.
TITUS Research GmbH is based at the Schönefelder Kreuz Aerospace Centre in Wildau. The company initiates and works on application-oriented research and development projects for unmanned highly automated or autonomous surface and air vehicles and their associated infrastructures. In this way, TITUS Research can offer partners from industry and science holistic research activities.
Photo: The TITUS research boat with sensor platform during a trial run on the Dahme River. © TITUS Research.
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