Marine robotic platforms on board the upcoming rebuild of the German research icebreaker Polarstern

Christian.Katlein [ at ]


In 2021 the Alfred-Wegener-Institute started a project for the replacement of its research icebreaker FS Polarstern. Current plans call for commissioning of the new vessel before the end of life of Polarstern expected in a few years. For the first time in the German research fleet, the ship will be equipped with extensive robotic assets to support seagoing science with modern tools. This will probably include amongst others a deep-sea capable work class ROV prepared for operations in closed ice covers of the Arctic and Antarctic. AUV technologies will routinely provide autonomous surveying capabilities underneath both, drifting sea ice and floating ice shelves. The fleet of vehicles will also include smaller vehicles for scientific as well as e.g. hull inspection tasks and work in the marginal ice zones. Underwater vehicles are to be joined by autonomous and remotely piloted aircraft investigating the ice pack from above. Due to the operation regions of the vessel, deployment of robotic vehicles will most of the time happen in ice-covered waters under harsh environmental conditions. These deployments will be complementary to the wide variety of established shipboard scientific tools and will enable more efficient and capable data acquisition in the ice-covered regions of the polar seas.

Item Type
Conference (Talk)
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Helmholtz Cross Cutting Activity (2021-2027)
Publication Status
Event Details
Marine Autonomy Technology Showcase (MATS 2021), Southhampton.
Eprint ID
Cite as
Katlein, C. (2021): Marine robotic platforms on board the upcoming rebuild of the German research icebreaker Polarstern , Marine Autonomy Technology Showcase (MATS 2021), Southhampton .

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