Smart Fouling Detection (SFD)

The “Smart Fouling Detection” (SFD) project aims to develop innovative software that can predict the fouling of ship hulls by algae and other organisms. For pleasure craft in particular, this technology enables owners to clean or apply the antifouling coating as required. Boat owners receive this information via a user-friendly app on mobile devices such as smartphones, meaning that even boats without an integrated plotter system can benefit from this cost-effective solution.

Algae growth increases water resistance, fuel consumption and pollutant emissions. Until now, attempts have been made to reduce algae growth by applying toxic and prophylactic antifouling coatings, which have a negative impact on the environment and water quality. The SFD project uses AI to detect changes in driving resistance and provide feedback on fouling without having to lift the boat out of the water. This enables targeted cleaning and optimised application of antifouling coatings, which reduces the use of toxic chemicals and thus protects the environment. The precise prediction of the fouling condition also reduces fuel consumption, operating costs and CO₂ emissions. The software also extends the intervals for applying antifouling coatings and supports the transition to more environmentally friendly electric drives.

To enable efficient and secure data management, an advanced database and cloud system was developed based on a Debian operating system with MariaDB and NoSQL technologies. All communication is protected by encrypted connections. At the same time, the app developed with the Ionic Framework enables native functions for iOS and Android and can interact with integrated peripherals such as GPS and Bluetooth. It collects basic data such as boat type, engine type, GNSS data (coordinates, speed), engine parameters and weather information, which is sent in real time to the ISO 27001-certified server and evaluated using machine learning and big data analyses in order to detect changes in driving resistance and provide feedback on fouling.