Cyber-Physical Port of the Future

Fact Sheet

Contact Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bernd-Christian Renner
Staff Lars Hanschke
Financing Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) and Hamburg Port Authority (HPA)
Duration 07/16 - 03/20

Project Description


Cyber-physical systems are well applicable to ports and cities, where the right balance between economy and ecology is a key issue. The underlying benefits of a smart port range from more efficient traffic management over monitoring to controlling of supply chains and work flows. A key research challenge is the (regenerative) energy supply of all devices (i.e., sensors and actuators) to decrease costs for deployment and maintenance. In the past years, the capabilities of environmentally-powered devices grew: computing power increased and multi-sensor platforms, e.g. for monitoring fine dust, humidity and temperature, became imaginable. However, the increased capabilities come at the cost of increased complexity for balancing the activity. To maintain perpetual operation, energy-aware adaption of a device's activity is key.

Goals and Contributions

Supported by the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA), the Institute smartPORT of the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) carries out research in this domain. We investigate aspects of miniature, low-power sensing and actuating devices regarding energy supply from the environment (solar, wind, water flow, vibrations). Furthermore, we assess the usage of low-power energy-harvesting sensors and actuators to integrate cyber-physical systems seamlessly into existing infrastructures. A central aspect is to optimize and schedule power consumption within the boundaries set by environmental energy and time aspects of the sensor values. Since satisfying all scheduling constraints on-the-fly is computational complex, we develop microcontroller-optimized algorithms to solve the underlying problems efficiently. Here, the main goal is to decrease potentially wasted energy, e.g. due to duplicate sensing or outdated sensor values, to increase the benefit for the operator of the sensor network.