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Project explores benefits of a digital twin for autonomous inland navigation

How can the creation of a so-called digital twin pave the way for inland navigation vessels to be able to navigate autonomously safely one day? This is the question being investigated by the recently launched DAVE project, which is being funded with 500,000 euros by the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport (BMDV) as part of the mFUND initiative.


Wildau/Lübeck, 15 December 2022
In order for ships to be able to drive safely in a highly automated or autonomous manner in the future, they need a reliable digital image of their surroundings. This includes information about other road users and the infrastructure along the waterway as well as detailed knowledge about the ship’s own condition and the current environmental conditions to which it is exposed. All this information must be transmitted and processed in real time if possible.

Digital twin as an important basis for autonomous navigation

The DAVE project aims to create a digital image of a ship and the waterway infrastructure that is as close to reality as possible. This so-called “digital twin”, in which all the recorded data on the ship and its surroundings are summarised, is an important prerequisite for the ship to be able to navigate autonomously in the future. At the same time, a “digital twin” also opens up numerous possibilities for adapting the ship’s journey even better to the conditions on the waterway in the future, such as the water level, lock times or the current traffic flow.

From sensor concept to simulation

With the DAVE project, which is scheduled to run for 18 months, the project participants – TITUS Research GmbH, Lübeck University of Technology and the ship technology company R+S Stolze GmbH – want to investigate what advantages the use of a “digital twin” will bring for the stakeholders, such as skippers, operators or traffic management. “To do this, a flexible sensor concept must first be developed that is capable of recording all necessary and available data of the ship and its environment,” says project manager Dr Axel Heßler from TITUS Research. By means of sensor data fusion, the data is to be recorded even more reliably and then, among other things, classified and analysed by AI modules and thus processed for the digital twin.

Later, the data obtained in this way will be communicated to other road users and to traffic centres and synchronised with each other. The results should take inland navigation a step further on the road to automated and autonomous driving.


About the mFUND of the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV)

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


About the project partners

TITUS Research GmbH
TITUS Research GmbH 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 integrated research activities to partners from industry and science.

Technische Hochschule Lübeck
The Technische Hochschule Lübeck supports industry in various areas in joint research and development projects. The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science with the CoSA Communication Systems Competence Centre uses applied research to develop solutions primarily in the fields of industry, medical technology and maritime technology, with the use of networked systems, artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction.

R+S Stolze GmbH
With first-class turnkey solutions for the electrotechnical equipment of ships, R+S Stolze GmbH combines state-of-the-art, innovative technology with traditional values and craftsmanship. The range of services includes planning, construction, installation, commissioning, modernisation work as well as repair services in the field of electrical engineering for the new construction and refit of ships.

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