Rhenus News

Successful completion of the “FernBin” research project

Remote-controlled, coordinated driving in inland navigation: what sounds like the future was the aim of a research project that was recently successfully completed. The Rhenus Group played a key role in the project and gained many insights for the future of inland shipping.

The project focused on the Ernst Kramer motor cargo vessel as a test object, which was equipped with numerous cameras and the necessary technical equipment for its new use. This included, for example, lidar technology, which is used to measure distances via laser scanning, as well as devices for controlling the systems and mobile radio transmission. The technology was tested on various practice runs in the port of Duisburg and on the Rhine-Herne Canal. Ten skippers steered the Ernst Kramer from one of the two control stations set up and practiced mooring, casting off, locking, as well as route and maneuvering from a distance. They were able to overcome their initial skepticism about the remote control station and the technology. There was always a crew on board during the voyages so that they could intervene and take over the controls in an emergency.

One reason for the research project was the increasing shortage of skilled workers. Steering an inland waterway vessel from the office during the day and being with the family at the end of the day is a perspective that can make the inland waterway shipping profession more family-friendly and therefore more attractive. Although a reduction in the number of personnel on board is not yet foreseeable, the operating time could be extended by remote control. The technology could also be helpful for training in the future.


The Rhenus Group is one of the leading logistics specialists with global business operations and annual turnover amounting to EUR 8.6 billion. 39,000 employees work at 1,120 business sites and develop innovative solutions along the complete supply chain. Whether providing transport, warehousing, customs clearance or value-added services, the family-owned business pools its operations in various business units where the needs of customers are the major focus at all times.