(press release) The engineer and scientist Dr. Bernd Rech was head of VW Group Research and Group Development for autonomous vehicles. As of now, he supports the start-up Unleash Future Boats, which develops emission-free and autonomously driving boats on the Schlei. Dr. Rech will support the company in the areas of sensor systems, connect, patent strategy and series development.
Schleswig, 28 April 2021 – Environmentally friendly, autonomously operating ships for clean and sustainable mobility on the water. This is the vision of the company Unleash Future Boats from Schleswig. The founding couple Stefanie and Lars Engelhard develop boats that are electrically powered by fuel cells and green hydrogen. This makes them completely emission-free – for the air (carbon dioxide or nitrogen), for the water (lubricants or diesel) and with regard to noise pollution.
The prototype is under construction and is expected to be launched before the end of May 2021. From spring 2023, the first small ferries, the “Schleiboote”, will use the waterway to connect the city of Schleswig with the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Haithabu, a Viking museum, and other locations on the banks of the Schlei. In the near future, the towing boats will also be available “on demand”, so that passengers can order them as water taxis via app.
Now the company is getting a prominent addition: the two founders, who themselves worked for many years in the automotive industry in the areas of autonomous driving and electric drives, have gained Dr. Bernd Rech as an advisory board member.
Dr. Rech is one of the most distinguished minds in the fields of autonomous driving and connected mobility. From 1995 until the beginning of 2021, the electrical engineer with a doctorate in engineering shaped the development of connected autonomous driving at Volkswagen AG. As Head of Networked Mobility and Head of Sensor Systems for Autonomous Vehicles, he not only developed key innovations for the VW Group, but also brought them into series production.
Dr. Bernd Rech ended his management duties in February 2021, but continues to provide scientific advice to Volkswagen AG. From now on, he will also support the young founding team of Unleash Future Boats as an advisor. He will support and advise the company primarily in the areas of sensor systems for autonomous driving, patent strategy, networked mobility and the suitability of developments for series production.
“Dr. Bernd Rech has been quasi optimally trained through his work at VW to now help us successfully establish Unleash Future Boats in the market,” Lars Engelhard is pleased to say.
“We are planning a technology transfer from automotive to maritime mobility and thus want to change shipping in the long term,” explains Stefanie Engelhard. “Dr. Bernd Rech is the ideal partner for this.”
“Autonomous driving also has enormous potential for maritime mobility. When I got to know Unleash Future Boats, I was immediately impressed by the innovative team with its strong implementation skills. The topic is highly innovative and extremely promising. At Unleash Future Boats I can bring in all my experience and at the same time combine this with my new hobby, sailing. I am looking forward to my new task!”, says Dr. Bernd Rech.
The concept of Unleash Future Boats is already recognized by the UN as a sustainability project. Politics and business also support the start-up. The Port of Duisburg as well as the Lübeck Technology Center and the Lübeck Chamber of Commerce and Industry have also included Unleash Future Boats in their accelerator programs. Various regions and metropolises at home and abroad would like to use the tugboats in the near future and have made inquiries to the company.
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