The project started mid-2017 and investigates to what extent automatisation is possible and feasible for convoys. The vessel-train concept is based on the combination of one manned leading ship with less manned vessels in a platooning unit (digital networking and coupling of multiple vehicles). The project aims at strengthening inland navigation by introducing more flexible transport solutions and by reducing transport costs. Additionally, the greater automatisation should have a positive impact on the safety of navigation. Crew shortages are also expected to be mitigated by reduced required manning.

viadonau is focussing on the interplay between River Information Services (RIS) and the aspects of navigation support. A connection to existing on-board systems should support the situation awareness in the steering system.

Duration and Budget

01.06.2017 – 30.11.2021

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

News and project status

In a first step, technical requirements and processes for the vessel-train concept have already been developed, which will form the basis for mapping relevant maneuvers. Communication between the lead vessel and the following vessels is carried out by means of a communication protocol via the developed control system. This enables access to the propulsion and rudders of the ships in the platooning formation and thus also allows appropriate reactions during encounter and overtaking maneuvers. In a further step, navigation aids for the vessel train were developed in 2019 to enable the most energy-efficient vessel operation possible. This involves determining an optimal trajectory based on available fairway depths and the shortest path. Then, power and fuel consumption are optimized for a given estimated time of arrival.

An initial proof of concept for a lead ship and a following ship has already been achieved within the framework of a simulation with several experienced captains in October 2019. This was also confirmed during a model test in February 2020. Preparations for a full-scale demonstration in spring 2021 are already underway. The project has been extended by half a year. The new project end is planned for November 2021.

Further information is available under:

The project makes a substantial contribution to the implementation of measure
09. Develop River Information Services further of the Action Programme for the Danube 2022.