Current Projects

RoboVaaS - Robotic Vessels as-a-Service

© RoboVaaS

Smaller unmanned surface and underwater vessels (USV or UUV) are already state of the art today, although up to now they have primarily operated separately from shipping. The project 'Robotic Vessels as-a-Service' (RoboVaaS) aims to make maritime operations in coastal waters safer by integrating and networking smaller USV and UUV efficiently and to offer new services for shipping. The system is supported by networked vehicles with special sensors, a reliable data transmission cloud network for surface and underwater communication, a monitoring station and a web-based real-time user interface. Wherever possible, autonomous ship technology will be used, but some operations will continue to involve human control by e.g. remote-controlled vehicles. Applications include anti-grounding and inspection services or emission and bathymetry measurements.

During the three-year project period, a live data-based USV grounding avoidance service, a hull UUV inspection service and an automated USV/UUV data collection service for port areas will be developed. In addition to the definition services, a communication network with a web-based real-time interface will be developed and tested in the port environment. The disruptive concept has the potential to improve maritime and human safety, increase the flexibility and accessibility of European waterways and reduce costs for a wide range of maritime stakeholders.

RoboVaaS is funded by the MarTERA partners Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi), Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR), Irish Marine Institute (MI) and the European Union.

Visit the official homepage of RoboVaaS

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 728053.



AIRCOAT – A biomimetic hull coating to reduce ship drag

AIRCOAT (Air Induced friction Reducing ship COATing) is a three-year project that started on May 2018 and received funding from the European Commission within the Horizon 2020 framework. The project aims at developing a passive air lubrication technology inspired by the Salvinia effect. Applying the biomimetic AIRCOAT technology to ship-hull surfaces will produce a thin permanent air layer when submerged in water. This will reduce the overall frictional resistance, while acting as a physical barrier between water and the hull surface. In addition to reducing energy consumption, the air barrier will inhibit the attachment of maritime organisms (biofouling) and dampen acoustic emissions.

An interdisciplinary team of ten European partners develops the AIRCOAT prototype, which will be validated by experimental and numerical methods and demonstrated in operational environments. Major advantages of AIRCOAT to existing technologies is that the ship hull is passively lubricated and that the refit technology would be immediately applicable to the whole fleet. Project Coordinator Johannes Oeffner from the Fraunhofer CML comments: “AIRCOAT has a high potential to become a ground-breaking technology to increase energy efficiency and reduce ship emissions in the future.”

The Fraunhofer CML coordinates the project and bridges the gap between research and industry to ensure the holistic AIRCOAT approach. CML contributes to optimising the AIRCOAT surface structure via experimental and numerical methods and analyse results allowing transferring it to larger scales and application to real ships. Besides developing a method to quantify and monitor the air layer, CML will further be part of assessing the economic and environmental impact of AIRCOAT.

Visit the official homepage at and follow AIRCOAT via Twitter or LinkedIn to keep up with the latest news. 

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 764553.



FernSAMS - safe and optimized port manoeuvres with remote-controlled tugboats

FernSAMS is the german name for the „use of remote-controlled tugs in handling manoeuvres of large ships“. Together with five other partners under the coordinator Voith, CML launched a project funded by the BMWi (german Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy), whose aim is to design a remote-controlled tug and all the components required for its operation. These range from automated line handover to communication and training programs. The task of CML is to develop and validate the nautical assistance system. The assistance system builds the interface to the people involved in the manoeuvres. The requirements for the system will be analysed and determined based on typical manoeuvring situations. The tug‘s remote control is designed as an innovative control
console. The use of this console will be tested and optimized at the CML by means of extensive simulations. At a later stage of the project, the remote control system will be used from a real harbour tugboat. The successful implementation of the project is expected to increase the efficiency of manoeuvres, reduce time and energy consumption and increase the safety of manoeuvres. The project also holds potential in terms of further development into a (partially) autonomous system. The scientists at CML are therefore delighted to receive funding: “The project conducts previous CML research work and enables us to further expand our expertise in the development and testing of autonomous technologies,“ says Laura Walther, project manager at CML.



Maritime Traffic Management: Third Phase of Monalisa Project

Within the framework of the EU project MONALISA 2.0 the Fraunhofer CML was involved in a leading position in the development of a trans-Europe simulation network for risk analyses until fall 2015. The project started in October 2013 and aimed at developing a framework for the European maritime sea traffic management (STM) to improve the safety of shipping in the long run. Furthermore the partners want to enhance the efficiency, capacity, flexibility and predictability of the maritime traffic. The STM Validation Project that has just started is taking MONALISA 2.0 into the next round: "Before the STM starts into the development and utilization phase in the years ahead, our next step is the validation of the present concept", said Ole John, Senior Research Associate at the Fraunhofer CML.

For this reason, new participants are involved in the European simulator network, which was developed during the preceding project, and the stability of the process be ensured. The STM Validation Project encompasses 300 vessels, ten ports of different sizes and three shore centers that will be used in the simulation scenarios in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean Sea. 39 project partners (private, public and academic) from 13 countries will test STM for its applicability. The project has a total budget of 43 million euros and a duration of three years. 50% of the budget is subsidized by the EU. 

The Sea Traffic Management project presents itself in a new and informative short film illustrating the advantages and services of the project. Join the M/S Validator on its way from New York to Umeå, Sweden, and see the STM services in practice. Enjoy!



Container Security by Non-Intrusive Inspection NII

The international container traffic is exposed to many risks: cargo containers can be misused for smuggling, illegal immigration, drug trafficking or the transport of dangerous illegal substances. Funded in EU Horizon 2020 program, research project C-BORD (effective Container inspection at BORDer control points) supports the security and customs inspection of containers by proposing solutions and their application.

Using innovative detection technologies, such as X-ray measurement, passive radiation or gas detectors, C-BORD is to significantly increase the probability of detecting illegal or dangerous content successfully.

Read our press release about the first test runs here.