Research News

Modern maritime technologies and AI-based methods will support ship personnel in making decisions

Wednesday, 05-05-2021

"MariData" research project focuses on a holistic ship energy and operations management system

A total of 12 partners from industrial and research sectors are working together to make an important contribution to improving the energy efficiency of ship operations and thus lowering emissions.
After all, there are around 50,000 ships in operation worldwide, producing almost 1 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalents annually, largely through their propulsion systems. That is why the "MariData" research project focuses on a holistic ship energy and operations management system consisting of a combination of modern maritime technologies and AI-based methods.

A central challenge here is the streamlining of diverse information into a single decision support system that optimally integrates energy efficiency into the action regulation of the ship's personnel. Simulation-based modules (so-called "digital twins") bring together geometric properties of the individual ship, as well as hydrodynamic and situational factors (e.g. weather, swell) to support personnel in their daily decision-making. 

Energy efficiency has been a key concern for shipbuilders and operators for centuries. "In the past, this was based on economic goals - how to save fuel. Today, the ecological perspective is of utmost importance," explains Prof. Dr. Thomas Franke from the Institute for Multimedia and Interactive Systems at the University of Lübeck. "This makes a consistent and significant reduction of exhaust emissions in the operation of ships indispensable."

The focus is on the human factor

"As with any human-technology system, the actual benefits depend on two factors: technical potential and user behavior. So in addition to the technical challenges, it is also essential to consider factors such as motivation and trust" explains Jan Heidinger, technical coordinator of the project in Lübeck.

To this end, in the spirit of human-centered development, prototypes of the MariData interfaces are being developed on the basis of models grounded in engineering psychology and evaluated in user studies. "Here, we apply models of resource regulation and information processing in particular," says Mourad Zoubir, study coordinator of the project in Lübeck, "these provide us with insights into operators' individual resources for action regulation, which are important, for example, for dealing with conflicting goals or phases of high stress."

MariData's innovation lies in the accurate assessment and analysis of current ship resistance, propulsion, and respective fuel consumption under realistic operating conditions, while taking into account wind and wave effects. On this basis, a rational analysis of the influences of the individual components is carried out, thus improving the quality of the forecast and the basis for navigational decisions. Integration with state-of-the-art geoservices takes the planned system to a new level. In addition, there are flexible approaches to quickly generate missing data and integrate them into the analysis.

The researchers from Lübeck ensure the human-centric approach within the project, and thus also generate cross-project findings on the human-centric digitization of shipping. The "MariData" project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy with a total of €7.6 million. The research at the University of Lübeck is being supported with €565,000.


Contact person:

Prof. Thomas Franke
Institute for Multimedia and Interactive Systems
University of Lübeck
Ratzeburger Allee 160
23562 Lübeck
Tel.: 0451-31015111
E-Mail: franke(at)imis.uni-luebeck(dot)de

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