RWTH Institute of Automatic Control Conducts Research Into Automating Ferry Connections




Tim Reuscher

Abteilungsleiter Mobilität und Navigation


+49 241 80 28036



Demonstration vessel to travel between Rügen and Hiddensee.


A consortium is developing automation systems to increase safety and reduce fuel consumption in ferry operations in the “autoFerry” research project. The RWTH Institute of Automatic Control with Professors Dirk Abel and Heike Vallery is also involved. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection is funding the RWTH Institute’s work with 555,000 euros over the next three years.

The team will be looking at all the opportunities for automation – from casting off to maneuvering to mooring. Challenges here include narrow shipping channels, sailing at high and low tide, and in stormy winds. The multitude of traffic participants must also be taken into account. The developments will be demonstrated on the motor ferry Wittow in the coastal area of the Baltic Sea between Rügen and Hiddensee.

The RWTH Institute will be working on algorithms for localization, trajectory planning, and control. Weiße Flotte GmbH is equipping its ferry with sensor technology and will define requirements for safe autonomous ferry operation. Voith GmbH & Co. KGaA is responsible for controling two Voith-Schneider propellers, while ArgoNav GmbH is developing methods for environment detection. The consortium has now met with representatives from the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure and members from Project Management Jülich to launch the project.