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Entwicklungszentrum für Schiffstechnik und Transportsysteme e.V.


Robotic automation of the loading of inland tank vessels

Development and testing of collaborative and automated robotic systems to support the loading process of inland tank vessels

The advancing automation of inland waterway transport can only achieve its goals if it is viewed holistically. The importance of liquid cargo handling in German inland ports is often neglected. Current processes of liquid cargo handling are sometimes characterized by manual, physically strenuous and error-prone work. This project addresses the great need for future-proof, automated solutions in the field of liquid cargo handling.

In a first work stream, the project realizes a partial automation using a collaborative robot system, a so-called cobot, to support the loading process of inland tank vessels. Partial automation using a cobot promises an acceleration of processes, increased process reliability, the best possible occupational safety and a reduction in the physical and psychological burden on the operator. In addition to the cobot, a robotic arm is being developed in a second work stream to realize a fully automated refueling process.

The project aims to achieve the described objectives by means of a dual research strategy. To this end, an iterative approach is envisaged in accordance with VDI 2206, involving the use of simulations and scaled test systems. In the development of the partially automated cobot, a scaled test system will first be set up and tested at the Research Lab for Innovative Port Technologies (HaFoLa). In a later phase, the optimized system will be built on a real scale and tested at the tank section of the European Safety Center Duisburg e. V. at the Schiffer-Berufskolleg RHEIN (ESD) in Duisburg. An interdisciplinary approach involving engineers, psychologists and business economists will equally ensure the effectiveness and acceptance of the solutions.


Media review:

Project duration:

  • July 2022 – June 2025

Funding framework:

  • Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport, Innovative Port Technologies (IHATEC II)


Project coordination:

Project management:

Consortium management:

  • Matthias Bindschus
    Garant Energie GmbH


Collaborative partners:


Associated partners:

The CoboTank research project is funded by the Federal Ministry for Digital Affairs and Transport under grant agreement no. 19H2204.

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    Development Centre for
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    E-Mail: dst@dst-org.de