20. October 2022
Situation picture created to protect a port area in Nordenham

DLR tests tech­nolo­gies to pro­tect mar­itime in­fras­truc­ture

The dinghy makes its way to the starting position before the scenario begins
The dinghy makes its way to the start­ing po­si­tion be­fore the sce­nario be­gins
Image 1/5, Credit: © DLR. All rights reserved

The dinghy makes its way to the starting position before the scenario begins

The dinghy is used to sim­u­late an in­tru­sion in­to the closed port area from the sea. Dif­fer­ent cam­era sys­tems recog­nise it au­to­mat­i­cal­ly and sound an alarm as soon as they de­tect that it is en­ter­ing the rel­e­vant area.
The sensor data and processed information come together in the situation room
The sen­sor da­ta and pro­cessed in­for­ma­tion come to­geth­er in the sit­u­a­tion room
Image 2/5, Credit: © DLR. All rights reserved

The sensor data and processed information come together in the situation room

The mea­sure­ment da­ta and knowl­edge gained are vi­su­alised live on sev­er­al screens. Au­to­mat­i­cal­ly recog­nised ob­jects, in­clud­ing ships, ve­hi­cles and peo­ple are dis­played in the im­age da­ta with their as­so­ci­at­ed po­si­tion. The sys­tem is­sues an alarm up­on de­tect­ing an un­de­sired event and draws at­ten­tion to the rel­e­vant lo­ca­tions.
The robot dog patrols the operational area
The robot dog pa­trols the op­er­a­tional area
Image 3/5, Credit: © DLR. All rights reserved

The robot dog patrols the operational area

Var­i­ous sen­sor sys­tems can be mount­ed on its back. The sys­tem, which is based in Sankt Au­gustin at the In­sti­tute for the Pro­tec­tion of Ter­res­tri­al In­fras­truc­tures, makes it pos­si­ble to record var­i­ous ar­eas au­to­mat­i­cal­ly and dy­nam­i­cal­ly, while the da­ta is trans­mit­ted di­rect­ly to the sit­u­a­tion­al aware­ness room. The use of these sen­sors is al­so sim­u­lat­ed in the vicin­i­ty of po­ten­tial­ly haz­ardous sub­stances that peo­ple should not ap­proach.
With a drone, the team in the situation room has a superb overview of the situation
With a drone, the team in the sit­u­a­tion room has a su­perb overview of the sit­u­a­tion
Image 4/5, Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

With a drone, the team in the situation room has a superb overview of the situation

The bird’s-eye view pro­vides im­por­tant in­sights in­to the pro­cess­es that need to take place af­ter a de­tect­ed in­tru­sion in­to the port area. The im­ages from a high-res­o­lu­tion cam­era are trans­mit­ted to the sit­u­a­tion room so that the team can bet­ter as­sess the sit­u­a­tion there.
The team discusses the course of the technology demonstration
The team dis­cuss­es the course of the tech­nol­o­gy demon­stra­tion
Image 5/5, Credit: © DLR. All rights reserved

The team discusses the course of the technology demonstration

The suc­cess­ful use of many dif­fer­ent tech­nolo­gies and the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the ap­pli­ca­tion sce­nario re­quires the co­op­er­a­tion of many com­mit­ted col­leagues. Re­searchers, en­gi­neers and tech­ni­cians come to­geth­er in the project to de­vel­op the MAR­LIN over­all sit­u­a­tion­al pic­ture sys­tem from a large num­ber of in­di­vid­u­al sys­tems.
  • On 19 October 2022, DLR demonstrated a technological system to protect a port area in Nordenham.
  • It simulated a scenario of disruption to port operations from land, water and air.
  • DLR created a real-time situational picture by collecting and processing observation data from the air, water and land.
  • Focus: maritime systems, maritime security, protection of infrastructure

Public attention is currently focused on the security of maritime infrastructure. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is conducting research into the protection of port facilities as well as their functionality. On 19 October 2022 DLR carried out a technology demonstration at the Seaport of Nordenham alongside the emergency services. The participants ran through various scenarios for disrupted port operations as part of the MARLIN project. DLR develops technologies and uses them to generate real-time situational overviews of the port to assist the emergency services in their efforts to ensure port security.

"The unique expertise of the participating DLR institutes and their research infrastructure are now a focus of security research. Together with the research areas of aeronautics, space, energy and transport, we are devising application-oriented solutions geared towards immediate use," says Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla, Chair of the DLR Executive Board. "DLR has on-going collaborations with politicians and authorities, as well as with industry and businesses to put our innovative security solutions to targeted use. A security- and protection status-related concept for recording the location of offshore wind farms has already been developed together with industry."

Testing disruption of port operations

The demonstration focused on protecting a port area subjected to disruptions from the ground, water and air. The scenario was as follows: A cargo vessel loaded with dangerous goods docks at the quay wall. Shortly after, intruders spy with a drone. This is registered by the system. A drone from the defence system displaces the scout drone. Next, people approach the vessel from a boat and from land. They detonate a smoke bomb on land to draw attention away from the water's edge, allowing them to slip into the port unnoticed. Potential underwater hazards, such as explosive devices, are also part of the scenario. Following prevention of the seaborne intrusion, the dinghy turns around and the occupants throw all possible evidence overboard.

Several devices with installed sensors observe the scenario and generate a complex picture of the situation from the combination of geo and sensor data. Fixed and mobile cameras on a bus and robotic dog record photos and videos. Various camera systems were used in the drill. Cameras with active laser lighting, known as range-gated systems, can see through the fog. This makes it easy to see people or objects floating on the water in poor visibility conditions. Cameras installed on drones, meanwhile, provide an aerial overview of the danger zone and the surrounding area.

"In our opinion, today's demonstration went very well. It's remarkable that our team has managed to combine so many different technologies in a single situational awareness system within such a short space of time," says Maurice Stephan, Project Manager at the DLR Institute for the Protection of Maritime Infrastructures in Bremerhaven.

The system also includes the DLR Seekatze. The sonar of this autonomous underwater vehicle can locate lost or submerged objects. Where required, another remote-controlled submersible vehicle can provide detailed recordings of conspicuous spots.

Real-time situational picture provides an overview

The data are then combined into a situational picture in an office container on the port premises. Algorithms that use artificial intelligence from the field of machine learning automatically identify relevant objects and events and display them on a map application. The current AIS signals that ships send out to indicate their position are also displayed on the map. From the situation room, the observers have a comprehensive overview of the situation and any potential dangers. This enables them to better coordinate security-related tasks. From here they can also control data sources and instruments, as well as add new ones. The emergency services can infer the situation and give those on the ground information such as the best route to the danger zone. The situational picture can also be accessed via mobile devices such as tablets. This makes it possible for emergency services tp receive the same information in different locations in order to proceed in a coordinated manner.

Summing up a successful day, Stephan says, "Among other things, our research stands out thanks to the fact that we work intensively with official end users and develop and promote different technologies for them. I'm sure that the work we’re doing will bring many of our system components to real-world application in the future."

  • Jana Hoidis
    Cor­po­rate Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Bre­men, Bre­mer­haven, Ham­burg and Old­en­burg
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)

    Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Me­dia Re­la­tions
    Telephone: +49 421 24420-1908
    Am Fallturm 9
    28359 Bremen
  • Maurice Stephan
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    In­sti­tute for the Pro­tec­tion of Mar­itime In­fras­truc­tures
    Fischkai 1
    27572 Bremerhaven


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