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How can highly automated and autonomous ships help to ensure that more goods are transported by water in the future? Where can automated processes offer advantages? These and similar questions will be addressed in the future by the working group “Automated Systems for Shipping, Ports and Infrastructure”, for which a thematic kick-off was held in Hamburg on 11 May. In addition to several practical presentations on the current state of automated and autonomous shipping, the future direction of the working group was also discussed. The aim of the working group is to address not only companies from the shipping industry, but also players along the entire logistics chain. The event was moderated by TITUS Managing Director Prof. Dr. Uwe Meinberg, who co-initiated the new working group.

The participating speakers presented current examples from practice on the status of autonomous shipping at present and pointed out corresponding needs for action. For example, the presentation by Kurt Bodewig, former Federal Minister of Transport, was dedicated to the question of how more traffic could be transferred from the road to the water in order to utilise sustainability and efficiency potentials. Hendrik Bußhoff from Wärtsila Voyage Germany illustrated with a practical example from the USA on the automation of a ship which framework conditions are conducive to the implementation of such projects. Holger Klindt from the German Institute of Navigation (DGON e.V.) reported on the organisation’s experiences and approaches to the topic of autonomous shipping.

Doreen Thoma from the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency then went into detail about the regulations for highly automated shipping. Dr Jens Neugebauer from the Institute for Ship Technology, Marine Technology & Transport Systems at the University of Duisburg-Essen reported on the university’s research activities in the field of automated shipping.

In the concluding discussion on the future focus of the working group, the application orientation of future activities played an important role. As an interface between research & development and industry, future projects should be specifically oriented to the needs of the participating companies. The focus should not only be on the ship itself and its automation, but also on optimising the entire logistics chain including the infrastructure involved.

TITUS Managing Director Meinberg was satisfied with the event: “The lively discussion on the individual presentations as well as the very interesting questions from the audience show that the working group will address important topics.”

The next meeting of the working group is expected to take place in autumn.