How do automatic identification systems work?
Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) are a fascinating invention. The technology, usually referred to simply as AIS, is often found on ships. It's a type of radar used for tracking ships and vessel traffic systems at sea.
AIS broadcasts vital information about the ship carrying it, in order to improve the safety of everyone out at sea. The technology makes other AIS users aware of a ship's position.
They were primarily invented to improve safety at sea; all ships with AIS are able to clearly spot which other ships are nearby. The technology also broadcasts vital information regarding a ship's identity, speed, direction and destination.
Which ships need AIS?
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is responsible for deciding which ships must use AIS. The latest amendments to the rules, made at the 73rd meeting of their Maritime Safety Committee, meant that even more ships than ever now have to use it.
Following this meeting, it was decided that all ships carrying passengers are required to utilise AIS, as are most ships weighing over 300 tons, or 500 tons for cargo, built after 2002.
There are a few exceptions which mean that ships built between 2002 and 2007 might not be obliged to use AIS. These only apply to ships which don't carry passengers or cargo, and the exceptions are mostly dependent on their weight.
However, it is mandatory for all ships over 300 tons, or 500 tons of cargo, built after 2007 to use it.
How Does It Work?
Standard AIS technology will use VHF transmitters to broadcast its position. These transmitters are built into the transponder and obtain information using standard GPS technology also found in mobile phones or car satellite navigation systems.
Details such as speed, destination, turning rate, pitch and roll can be collected automatically from the shipboard equipment. Identity information can also be programmed into the AIS before use.
It picks up all this information from other ships using VTS systems - the data is often displayed either in a chart-like format or using a radar display.
AIS can be vital in preventing collisions at sea. Marine traffic controllers use AISs to help ship drivers get to their destination safely in a similar way that air traffic controllers do for aeroplanes.
The technology has also helped to improve maritime security. National defence authorities will keep a lookout for ships attempting to reach land and ensure that they are authorised to do so.
Many ship captains will use AIS for navigational purposes. In fact, the United States Coast Guard has suggested the technology might eventually become the primary tool for ship navigation. The technology is able to show captains the location of notable objects other than ships, such as lighthouses, buoys and platforms.
AIS can prove crucial in the event of an accident where a ship needs to be located quickly. It can help search and rescue teams find a troubled vessel in good time and can also provide useful information for post-accident investigations.
No wonder many ships choose to use AIS, even if it has not been made mandatory by the IMO.
Rob Dunham, a science graduate is very much passionate about latest technology, mobiles, different types of iPhone apps and gadgets. Currently he resides in Hampshire, UK. Rob is an IT professional and loves to write on Tech gadgets review. You may connect him via Google+