Project description DigitalSOW


DigitalSOW joint project - Digital test field for automated and autonomous inland shipping on the Spree-Oder Waterway (SOW)

Problem definition

In recent years, numerous logistics centres have been built in the immediate vicinity of the Berlin motorway ring (A10) to supply the Berlin metropolitan region. From these centres, goods are largely transported by road to the capital. Due to the predicted growth in online trade, a further increase in delivery traffic is to be expected in the future.

In order to reduce the overall economic and health damage caused by unproductive waiting times in traffic jams and impairments due to emissions on the one hand, and to ensure the supply and disposal of the Berlin metropolis on the other, politicians are working intensively on new concepts for the transport of goods in metropolitan regions.

As the metropolis of Berlin and the surrounding area are criss-crossed with main and secondary waterways, a basic infrastructure for the transport of goods by waterway is available in the region. To integrate waterway transport into multimodal logistics chains and the use of intelligent automation solutions, extensive investments in the digitalisation of this mode of transport are therefore necessary.

Parallel to the development of a digital infrastructure along the waterway, the transport units and the transport process logistics must be adapted to the new requirements of city logistics. Digital transport documents, precise ship position and environment detection, automated and autonomous driving and a suitable communication infrastructure for networking the vehicles with a control centre are important challenges in this complex of topics.

Project goal

The overall objective of the project is the establishment and operation of a digital test field for the investigation, development and testing of concepts, algorithms and technologies for automated and connected driving on the Spree-Oder waterway.


A section of the Spree-Oder waterway is to be equipped with digital sensor technology for the real-time recording of the traffic situation and the waterway condition as well as for the support of ship positioning. Modern communication technologies will be installed and operated to ensure seamless data transmission between the control centre, the test field infrastructure and the test vessels.

For the testing of automated and connected shipping, new ship units will be developed and built and existing ship units of the project partners will be used. The goal is to also equip interested users of the test field with communication and positioning technology.

The application scenario considered in the DigitalSOW project is the supply and disposal of the Berlin metropolitan region with small, preferably automated, shipping units. The main waterways and inland waterways in the Berlin area could make an important contribution to the topics of "city logistics" and "low-emission transport process".

In order to consider the topic of automated and connected shipping as holistically as possible on the waterway, the requirements of the transport process are included in the necessary logistical equipment of the test field and in the design and construction of the new test vessels.

Project duration

06/2021 - 06/2024

Budget for the project

4.2 million € funding from the BMDV (formerly BMVI)

Project funding

The DigitalSOW project is funded by the Federal ministry for digital and transport (BMDV) within the framework of the funding guideline for investments for the development of digital test fields on federal waterways.

Further information / downloads

Project partner

Alberding GmbH (Consortium leader)

Alberding GmbH
Ludwig-Witthöft-Str. 14
15745 Wildau

Dipl.-Ing. Jürgen Alberding
Managing Director
Tel.: +49 (0) 3375 25198 00

German Aerospace Center

German Aerospace Center
Institute of Communications and Navigation | Nautical Systems
Kalkhorstweg 53
17235 Neustrelitz

Dr.rer.nat. Ralf Ziebold
Group Leader Multi Sensor Systems
Tel.: +49 (0) 3981 480 195

Schiffbau-Versuchsanstalt Potsdam GmbH

Schiffbau-Versuchsanstalt Potsdam GmbH
Marquardter Chaussee 100
14469 Potsdam

Dr.-Ing. Christian Masilge
Managing Director
Tel.: + 49 (0) 331 56712-0

Technische Universität Berlin

Technische Universität Berlin
Institute of land and sea transport systems | Department of Design and Operation of Maritime Systems
Straße des 17. Juni 135
10623 Berlin

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerd Holbach
Head of Department
Tel.: +49 (0) 30 314-21417

University of Rostock

University of Rostock
Institute of Automation Technology
Richard-Wagner-Straße 31 / Haus 8
18119 Rostock-Warnemünde

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Torsten Jeinsch
Tel.: + 49 (0) 381 498-7701

Association for European Inland Navigation and Waterways

Association for European Inland Navigation and Waterways
Dammstraße 15-17
47119 Duisburg

Michael Seifert
Research associate
Tel.: +49 (0) 30 4036 6618


Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration (WSV)
Federal Association of Public Inland Ports e. V.
BEHALA – Berliner Hafen- und Lagerhausgesellschaft mbH
Lutra GmbH - Port of Königs Wusterhausen
FGL Handelsgesellschaft mbH (AGRAVIS Raiffeisen-Gruppe)
Reederei Ed Line GmbH
Ministerium für Infrastruktur des Landes Brandenburg (MIL)
Economic Development Agency Brandenburg (WFBB)
Administrative district of Dahme Spreewald (LDS)

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