VESSEL REVIEW | Wavelab – German-developed autonomous demonstrator catamaran

Photo: FuD-Zentrum FH Kiel

The Research and Development Centre of the Kiel University of Applied Sciences (FuD-Zentrum FH Kiel) in Germany recently acquired an autonomous research demonstrator vessel built by local shipyard Gebruder Friedrich.

Named Wavelab, the electric-powered catamaran vessel is being developed by a consortium of five German organisations with the aim of gauging the feasibility of incorporating autonomous navigation technology on passenger vessels, with the focus initially on inner city commuter ferries. Wavelab will serve as an open platform for research and development of the required technologies for a planned autonomous public transportation network on the Kiel Fjord. It will follow a modular concept, meaning that the vessel will be highly flexible to integrate new technology projects as part of the Clean Autonomous Public Transport Network (CAPTN) initiative.

Photo: FuD-Zentrum FH Kiel

The test vessel has all-aluminium construction, a length of 21 metres, a beam of eight metres, a maximum draught of 1.2 metres, and a fully integrated electric propulsion system supplied by Torqeedo. The package includes two 50kW steerable thrusters, rudder propellers, and six lithium-ion batteries with a total capacity of 240 kWh. Four of the batteries supply power for the 24V onboard grid. The system will be supported by a 22kW fast charger, a DC/DC converter, and a DC/AC converter.

The vessel has a circumferential frame for optimal positioning of the sensors for partially autonomous operation and a 10-square-metre, air-conditioned deckhouse containing a helm station and workstations for scientists. In the three-metre-high hulls, there are expandable server cabinets while aft of the deckhouse is an open space to accommodate a range of research activities.

The vessel will initially be operated from a shore-based control centre. Data collected during trials will be transmitted from the vessel to the control centre via WLAN.

FuD-Zentrum FH Kiel is the owner of Wavelab as well as the leader of the CAPTN consortium. The other project partners include technology company Anschutz, internet service provider ADDIX, Science Centre Kiel, and Gebruder Friedrich.

Click here for more news stories, features, and vessel reviews as part of this month’s focus on the research and training sector.

Type of vessel:ASV – Technology demonstrator
Owner:Kiel University of Applied Sciences, Germany
Builder:Gebruder Friedrich, Germany
Hull construction material:Aluminium
Superstructure construction material:Aluminium
Deck construction material:Aluminium
Length overall:21 metres
Beam:8.0 metres
Draught:1.2 metres
Propulsion:2 x Torqeedo thrusters, each 50 kW; 2 x Torqeedo rudder propellers
Batteries:6 x Torqeedo lithium-ion
Operational area:Kiel Fjord, Germany

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