The port is one of the most important economic factors in Hamburg. One job in eight depends on the port directly or indirectly, accounting for around one sixth of Hamburg's gross value added in 2010. The Port of Hamburg benefits from its central location in Europe and its ideal road and rail transportation links. Experts expect a substantial transshipment growths in the future. If current processes are retained, an increase in transshipment volume will inevitably lead to a higher traffic volume in the port area but also on road and waterborne feeders. Since the room for physical port growth is strictly limited, a significant increase in the efficiency of all port processes is indispensable.

The Institute for Autonomous Cyber-Physical Systems carries out research in the following fields in order to make our ports smarter and more efficient.


Cyber-Physical Systems

Cyber-physical systems are an extension of wireless sensor networks to a network of interacting physical inputs and outputs. Sensing and actuating parts of the network form an entity that is required to act and react autonomously and in a smart manner on its changing environment. Smart cities, smart production lanes, and the smart grid are examples of this new technological process. Since each environment has its own characteristics and challenges, profound knowledge of the surroundings is needed. This requires cautious adaptation to the specific task leading to different implementations depeding on the demanded application. The key of building cyber-phisical systems is to see the problem as sum of all considerable aspects instead of solving the problems separately.  

CyberPort: Cyber-Physical Port of the Future

Supported by the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA), the Institute for Autonomous Cyber-Physical Systems of the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) carries out research to improve the efficiency and safety in port areas. We investigate aspects of miniature, low-power sensing and actuating devices regarding energy supply from the environment (solar, wind, water flow, vibrations) as well as low-power network protocols and control algorithms for a reliable access to the devices and a steady data flow.

i3-Lab Structural Integrity Using Vibro-Acoustic Modulation (VAM)

Our group is partner in the BWFG-funded i3 lab with topic "Structural Integrity Using Vibro-Acoustic Modulation", in which methods and algorithms for autonomous, unsupervised, and energy-autarkic structural health monitoring of critical civil infrastructure such as bridges is studied.

Networked Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) enable automated tasks, such as environmental monitoring (e.g., to assess water quality) and inspections (dams, locks). They can be used to identify pollution and their sources for prosecution, and they may even assist in case of disasters (e.g., ship accidents, floods) in terms of early situation assessment and diver support. Live reporting and the formation of swarms are realized through underwater communication and networking. The former guarantees immediate notification of incidents and findings, subsequently enabling timely responses by the authorities. The latter improves efficiency by increased areas covered and reduced processing times due to joint efforts by several AUVs. At the end of the day, this novel technique reduces the bill as complex, time-consuming, manual work flows are replaced by automated, autonomous devices with low unit and maintenance costs.

Acoustic Modem for Micro AUVs

To enable practical research of communication and self-localization algorithms for swarms of micro AUVs, we built an acoustic underwater modem.

BeoFisch: Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV)-Based Observation of Fish Swarms

In collaboration with Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW) and the University of Hamburg (UHH) we investigate the influence of climate change on the behavior of endangered fish species. For this purpose, a method for non-invasive monitoring of the state of fish stocks with high spatial and temporal resolution is developed based on autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). Moreover, the use of AUVs allows monitoring in shallow coastal waters, which is a major limitation of today’s investigation methods carried out with research vessels.

MoSAIk: Mobile Sensor Network for Autonomous and Large-Area Underwater Localization and Identification of Hazards in Ports and Inland Waters

Supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the MoSAIk project encompasses research towards swarms of miniature, autonomous underwater vehicles to support and protect divers in disaster scenarios and to observe and prevent contamination and pollution of inshore water bodies. Within the project, our research group focuses on reliable underwater communication and self-localization based on a self-mad, inexpensive, low-power communication hardware.