Joint project AKOON

  Experimental carrier Rhine ferry is being loaded with three passenger cars Copyright: © Rheinfähre Maul GmbH

In the AKOON research project, ferry operators, industry and universities are working together on technologies for the inland ferry of the future.


 Automated and Coordinated Navigation of Inland Ferries

Key Info

Basic Information

01.07.2019 to 31.12.2022

Autonomous systems are the future of global mobility.

Within the research project AKOON, Automated and Coordinated Navigation of Inland Ferries, a Rhine ferry will be fully automated as part of the BMWI funding program "Next Generation Maritime Technologies". The automation includes the river crossing and the docking at the ferry pier.

  Sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Economics Affairs and Climate Action

The test vessel in the AKOON research project is the ferry "Horst" of "Rheinfähre Maul", which operates near Mainz between Oestrich-Winkel and Ingelheim. With over 600,000 people and 300,000 vehicles transported each year, this ferry service is an indispensable part of the region's transportation infrastructure.

Due to narrow passages, sandbanks, and strong currents, the ferry area is considered particularly challenging, especially when water levels are low, as they were recently in the summer and fall of 2018. Such difficult conditions push Rhine ferry operators to the limit of their capabilities. Therefore, automation can relieve ferry staff, especially in such exceptional situations.

Intelligent route planning and optimized control of the drive units, consisting of four Voith Schneider Propellers, is to reduce fuel consumption and increase safety. Route planning requires comprehensive information on the current traffic situation on the Rhine, which can be reliably provided by combining various sensors.

The research project intends to lay the foundations for full automation in inland navigation and act as a technology driver. Upcoming developments in ship assistance systems, especially concerning inland navigation, are to be derived from the project in the future.


AKOON is a joint project. In addition to the Institute of Automatic Control at RWTH Aachen University, the following partners are involved in the project:

Project partner


The project sponsor is the Pproject management organisation Jülich.