• Project description
  • Scientific background
  • Project partners

Significance of the undersea test site “Digital Ocean Lab”

The difficult conditions in seawater make intensive, practical tests essential for reliable solutions. However, thus far there have been hardly any possibilities to test complex underwater systems and how they interact in real scenarios. The new offshore infrastructure of the “Digital Ocean Lab” (DOL), linked to the artificial reef off the coast of Nienhagen, will make it possible to develop and test underwater technology under real ocean conditions. The plan includes various underwater testing areas designed to cover the entire spectrum of underwater applications.


Onshore infrastructure

  • Wave pools
  • Laboratories and workshops
  • Quay wall
  • Specialized ships
  • Operations center
  • First steps

Operations center

  • Test site monitoring
  • Measurement data storage
  • Mission control

Offshore infrastructure

  • Water depth approx. 15 m
  • Area approx. 2000 x 1500
  • Central infrastructure (power, communication, positioning)

Near artificial reef

  • Re-use of existing structures
  • Project coordination
  • Synergy

Contact person coordination / Contact person press

Uwe von Lukas
Site Management Rostock
Joachim-Jungius-Straße 11
18059 Rostock
Phone +49 381 4024-100
  • uwe [dot] von [dot] lukas [at] igd-r [dot] fraunhofer [dot] de (send mail)
Digital Ocean Lab
Joachim-Jungius-Straße 11
18059 Rostock
  • peter [dot] menzel [at] igd-r [dot] fraunhofer [dot] de (send mail)
Daniela Welling
Head of Corporate Communications
Fraunhoferstraße 5
64283 Darmstadt
Phone +49 6151 155-146
  • daniela [dot] welling [at] igd [dot] fraunhofer [dot] de (send mail)

Sample applications

Munitions area

  • Sensors (physical, chemical, biological)
  • Video-based object detection
  • Manipulators

Pipeline and cable area

  • Detection
  • Sediment measuring
  • Novel cable covering

Undersea current area

  • Vehicles (ROV, AUV)
  • Command and control
  • Training and development

Open area

  • For various temporary uses
  • Crawler and trencher testing
  • Testing of underwater procedures

Underwater research and its challenges

The sea and its depths are a harsh environment that pose special challenges to humans and technology. Underwater systems of any kind need to operate with considerable autonomy, freed from WiFi and GPS. New communication and sensor solutions are in demand. Underwater conditions themselves--high water pressures, saltwater, biofouling, and powerful and unpredictable ocean currents--require specific and durable solutions as well as innovative materials. The detection of old munitions is an important field of application for underwater technology and is a major challenge given the poor visibility under water. At its Rostock site, Fraunhofer IGD is working with regional partners to develop sophisticated algorithms to improve underwater imaging quality so objects such as undetonated munitions can be detected, segmented and classified. The next step in the technology is already being taken: a smart camera in which AI-based, real-time image enhancement and object detection are implemented directly in miniaturized digital technology.