The generic testbed eMIR (e-Maritime Integrated Reference Platform), which is designed and implemented in cooperation with the DLR Institute of Transportation Systems and the DLR Institute of Communications and Navigation, has been used since 2014 for research and development of innovative approaches, methods and tools for the development, verification and validation (V+V) of new maritime systems. Similar to other industrial sectors (automotive, aerospace), maritime systems will show an ever-increasing degree of automation in the future, enabling the systems to react directly to influences from their physical environment, such as the current traffic situation. This poses new challenges for development departments and certification bodies. At present, validation procedures are still lacking that provide proof of the functionality (verification) and practicability (validation) of such highly automated systems during their development and are suitable for certification. However, such validation procedures are absolutely necessary to meet security requirements and to promote trust in such systems. Accordingly, efficient procedures, methods and tools must be researched and provided for V+V.
eMIR as an internationally known maritime testbed offers industry, small and medium-sized enterprises, and research institutes the opportunity to research and develop highly automated maritime assistance systems and concepts for autonomous ships. These can be tested in eMIR under both virtual and real conditions. Functions that arise during the development of automated systems and technologies are successively tested with the help of the testbed. eMIR offers three essential application possibilities for the research and development of such systems and technologies: Data collection and analysis, performance of simulations and physical experiments, and testing and demonstration. eMIR is to be further developed in cooperation with the DLR Institute of Communication and Navigation and the DLR Institute for the Protection of Maritime Infrastructures, among others, for the topics of sensor data integration, platforms, data exchange and testbeds at sea. Furthermore, as a large-scale research infrastructure, it is to be supplemented with services for port sensor technology, communication technology, high-precision maps, etc.
Data collection and analysis
Various data on ship movements and environmental conditions will be collected and evaluated as part of a long-term analysis to better understand and record the environment for which a new system is to be developed. From these data, conclusions will be drawn about how often and under what circumstances certain situations occur. Basic traffic patterns will be studied, especially with regard to human behavior and the associated human-machine interactions. This requires data collection of the highest quality: the more comprehensive and accurate the data sets are, the better they allow for the analysis of maritime traffic and the more stable is their basis for scientific modelling. This large amount of data is especially needed for the training of self-learning systems.
Performance of simulations and physical experiments
eMIR supports the necessary research and development processes for automated system functions and technologies during the entire development process. Due to its comprehensive and integrated testbed, which consists of two components, eMIR enables the execution of simulations and physical experiments. The virtual part HAGGIS is based on a co-simulation infrastructure using High Level Architecture (HLA). LABSKAUS, the physical part, can then seamlessly access the HAGGIS elements. The entire test process thus runs successively and as seamlessly as possible from virtual to physical tests. This step-by-step approach to testing automated system functions and technologies promises successful and meaningful test results, since the transition from simulations to real experiments is not ad hoc. Well-known and newly developed V+V methods based on X-in-the-Loop can be used in all phases of the development process. eMIR provides in particular methods to ensure the validity of the testbed components used. In this context validity means that the experiments performed in the virtual and physical testbed provide results that contain reliable and transferable information about the behavior of the investigated systems in the real world. The open testbed design of eMIR supports a system engineering approach with regard to new technologies, cooperation schemes, and human-machine interfaces, on the basis of which the overall system can be tested at the end of the test phase. The advantage of this successive test method is that experiments can initially be carried out without restriction in simulations, which are much cheaper than physical tests. In addition, there is practically no risk potential in the virtual testbed and the mass tests necessary for the statistical evaluation of new methods can be carried out. eMIR uses a common data model based on the international standard S-100 for maritime data exchange. The HAGGIS simulators are operated at the DLR in Oldenburg and at the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) in Hamburg. LABSKAUS covers the area of the Elbe between Brunsbüttel and Cuxhaven as well as the sea area between Cuxhaven, Wilhelmshaven and Heligoland. In Schillig-Reede and west of Heligoland, the construction of further physical testbeds for research into autonomous shipping is planned in cooperation with the Jade-Weser-Port.
Testing and demonstration
With eMIR, automated systems for use in industrial processes and applications can be demonstrated and evaluated. eMIR offers the possibility to prove the functionality and practicability of new products for sales support. By the combination and cooperation of the maritime testbed eMIR and automotive testbeds (Test Field Lower Saxony) one of the world's largest coherent testbeds for automated and autonomous traffic is created. Finally, the combination of automotive and maritime research activities makes it possible to carry out joint studies of multimodal freight transport and, at the same time, scientific findings can be used as natural synergy potentials. This plays an important role in automated port operations based on intelligent autonomous freight vehicles. While today's systems only operate in limited, well-defined contexts, in the future they will be able to do so in partially and later even completely unknown contexts.