May 2021

Autonomous system for precise GNSS-based water level determination launched

Changing water levels of rivers influence transport capacity and safety of the waterway. High water levels increase the risk of inland vessels colliding with bridges. Low water levels, on the other hand, reduce the transport capacity of the waterway. Current water level data is of great importance for safe shipping.

As part of a research project on the digitalisation of the waterway, Alberding GmbH has developed a system for the automated determination of the water level at navigation buoys. It consists of a high-precision RTK GNSS sensor, which is operated in the buoy with solar power, and a web service for evaluating the measurement data.

The Alberding Buoy-Track-System has been successfully tested since the beginning of April on the river Elbe in Dresden at the Marienbrücke Bridge. A comparison of hourly GNSS measurements at the AIS buoy with the data of the Dresden water level station over a period of four weeks has shown that the target vertical accuracy of +/- 5 cm can be achieved.

Precise depth information and current vertical bridge clearance can be derived from the measurement data of the Alberding sensor. In the future, the information will be transmitted to the inland vessels via the shore-based services of the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration (WSV) and displayed there in real time in the skipper's assistance systems.

GNSS-based water level measurements have several advantages over previous solutions. Compared to stationary gauge systems, our Buoy-Track-System can be implemented quickly, flexibly and inexpensively. It can be installed in the immediate vicinity of bridges and collect data there with high measurement frequency and accuracy, explains Jürgen Alberding, Managing Director of Alberding GmbH.

In a next step, Alberding GmbH, together with partners, wants to expand the real-time data acquisition at navigation buoys to include information on currents and water quality. A connection with weather stations is also conceivable. This opens up further interesting areas of application.

For detailed information or a personal consultation on our Buoy-Track-System, please contact us in email.