Port of Hamburg

Homeport to bridge harbour and technology

25 June 2024
Homecoming Homeport to mark third anniversary with prototype and technology festival

Homeport was launched in late  2021 as a 4,000-square-metre area on the south bank of the Elbe River to provide space for test drives of autonomous vehicles and as a take-off and landing sites for drones. Maritime innovations are now being tested under real conditions on the entire site, which is managed by the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA). "This gives us an opportunity to respond even better to individual infrastructural requirements and conditions when testing prototypes or pilot applications," says Stefanie Teichmann, Product & Operations Manager at Homeport. "We can now decide whether to offer access from shore X or Y - depending on the depth of the water, ferries or a jetty. The same goes for the requirements on land.”

"Deeptech X Future Ports" motto of festival

Organised by Aufbruch Hamburg and HPA, the Homecoming Homeport festival gets underway on July 4 at the Landungsbrücken in St. Pauli under the motto of "Deeptech X Future Ports". "There will be pagodas instead of deck chairs. We will be organising panel discussions and sessions on innovative maritime solutions in mobile sensor technology, automation, robotics, AR, VR, digital twins and 3D printing. Visitors can also watch numerous use cases," said Teichmann. And Homeport remains a tech enabler for the port of the future, she stressed, adding: "We are building a bridge between the port world and technology across national borders."

Venue of Homecoming Homeport Festival on July 4
Venue of Homecoming Homeport Festival on July 4

International co-operation: PIN

Guests from the Baltic region, Antwerp, Valencia and Halifax are expected at the "Prototype & Technology Festival" as Hamburg has close bilateral links with all of these ports. The global Port Innovators Network (PIN) was founded last 2023 by Homeport in Hamburg, Opentop in Valencia and The Pier in the Canadian port of Halifax to boost the introduction of innovations in the global port system as well as cross-border networking. Emphasis is  also on transferring and sharing knowledge, e.g., the results of projects, experiences with innovations to accelerate the adoption of new solutions in the port network.

Test flight of drone in Port of Hamburg
Test flight of drone in Port of Hamburg

Well-known companies and organisations at festival

"Panel discussions and presentations will be held in English to encourage international talks," said Teichmann. Topics range from securing resilient supply chains, cyber security in ports to autonomous systems in the maritime and logistics sector as well as new shipping materials. "Dr Melanie Leonhard, Senator for Economics, will also tour the exhibition and will meet various exhibitors personally," said a delighted Teichmann. The exhibitors include well-known companies such as Lufthansa Industry Solutions, Kongsberg Maritime and Fujitsu Technology Solutions, as well as the University of Hamburg and the Fraunhofer Centre of Maritime Logistics and Services (CML).

Köhlbrand Bridge is being cloned for the smartBRIDGE project
Köhlbrand Bridge is being cloned for the smartBRIDGE project

AI panel with AI avatar Electra Dare

Asked about the latest, key technological developments in Hamburg's port industry, Teichmann simply laughed, adding: "That's easy. AI, AI, AI. The AI avatar Electra Dare will present real-life use cases on our panel including AI solutions for everyday office work, AI-assisted image recognition for identifying and assessing damage to the quay walls and the use of digital twins." The smartbridge project, for instance, already uses this technology. HPA is also cloning Hamburg's landmark Köhlbrand Bridge. Analogue and digital data are combined to get a holistic overview of its condition. Maintenance becomes predictive and the bridge can be managed sustainably.

Spot inspecting structure of Köhlbrand Bridge
Spot inspecting structure of Köhlbrand Bridge

Spot, the robotic dog, turns inspector

Spot, the robotic dog, provides data on the condition of the bridge. Equipped with a laser scanner, sensors and a high-resolution camera with 30x optical zoom, the dog explores the 3.8 kilometres of cavities in the Köhlbrand Bridge itself and collects data for HPA’s structural inspectors. This data is then used to create a detailed 3D model, which people can view and analyse conveniently using VR headsets. Anyone who has ever wanted to explore the Köhlbrand Bridge will now an opportunity to do so virtually during the Homecoming Homeport festival. "HPA will be there with its VR technology," Teichmann promised.


Sources and further information

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