IMARES: Integrative manoeuvre realisation system for automated steering of ships

IMaReS is one part of the joint project IMMoS of the Department of Maritime and Logistics Studies at Jade University and the Institute of Ship Theory, Simulation and Maritime Systems of the Faculty of Engineering Science at the University of Applied Sciences Wismar, situated in Warnemünde.

Faculty staffProf. Dr.-Ing. Holger Korte
Dedicated staffOliver Köckritz
A. Sonnek
Duration36 months
Funding260,000 €
Partners (industry)Scandlines, STN Schiffselektrik Elmenhorst, SevenC’s Hamburg, MarineSoft Rostock
Partners (other)Rostock University, WMU Malmö, Inst. MATNAV Warnemünde e.V.


The aim of the project is to increase the safety and efficiency of shipping traffic by means of a complex simulation system combined with automatic motion process controllers and underlying process regulation on board a vessel. To aid the navigator on duty during critical manoeuvres, the actual status of the process is visualised on the bridge. The focus lies on manoeuvring in harbours and in proximity to offshore structures.

Innovation and originality

Integrating manoeuvre-planning algorithms in an automated steering device on board ships will allow very accurate manoeuvres, which could not be achieved by the currently most advanced devices. The information provided by the algorithms is fed piecewise into systems which are integrated on the bridge, such as autopilot and the dynamic positioning (DP) system.

The module developed within the scope of the project is intended to be used for planning the dynamic process of ship motion over the entire journey from putting out to sea until landing and, with the aid of a control system, to automatically scroll through this kinematic progression. The navigator on duty is then able to concentrate on his or her original task of tactical traffic monitoring and planning.

International and national placement of the project and co-operations

With this project, the external fund capacity of the proposer is secured and expanded on a European scale within a competitive market. A technical goal is the improved user friendliness of ship manoeuvring systems and corresponding training. Recent appointment procedures at Jade University of Applied Sciences clearly show that Germany is confronted by a discrepancy between academic maritime personnel and corresponding job offers. By offering cooperative doctorates we hope to counteract this trend.

IMMoS project increases the integration of existing systems on bridges and contributes significantly to technical and operational ship safety by relieving personnel from tiring manoeuvring tasks. Potential damage to the environment (within the scope of the project, mainly focussed on north European waters) by shipping can be minimised. The IMEAS project proposal perfectly fits the objectives of the European structural support of both the state of Lower Saxony and the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The project can play an important role in strengthening the research associations “Safe and economically efficient shipping” (“Sichere und wirtschaftlich effiziente Seefahrt“) in the region of Rostock and „Safe Offshore Operations“ in the region of Oldenburg.

Scope and planned work packages

  • Concept for the realisation of automated manoeuvring processes on ships;
  • Development of mathematical procedures to invert ship manoeuvres;
  • Development of software modules for event driven motion planning of vessels in ECDIS and generation of control variables;
  • Development of real-time simulation support for manual process monitoring;
  • Determination of ship specific control parameters, e.g. Scandlines in the research harbour of Rostock;
  • Implementation of the procedures in a prototype based on the AdaNav ship controller;
  • Testing of the procedures under laboratory conditions as well as testing the entire system in a ship manoeuvring simulator with involvement of partners;

Potential applications

Based on preliminary investigations, the methodologies that will be developed within the scope of the project will save approximately 1/3rd of the manoeuvring time in comparison to manual navigation.

Simulations of controlled ship motions in training centres result in a gain of time which the test subjects can use to focus more on decision making. An increase in training success was noted.

Research-related qualifications

Together with the University partners from Rostock and Malmö, graduates of the University of Applied Sciences and project staff are introduced to scientific research with options for potential doctorate topics.