Virtual AIS, in the field, for real!

by Tim on May 25, 2012

Does anybody remember this article from five years ago?

Artificial AIS: The Time Has Come

Synthetic (Virtual) AIS illustration

In my earlier article on maritime “trainspotting” using AIS, I suggested that for the first time, large numbers of pleasure boaters will consider adding AIS to their onboard navigation systems, both for the navigational value as well as the “cool” factor.

As I thought more about this, it became clear to me that the AIS infrastructure could become a powerful medium for important navigational data well beyond the vessel information for which it was originally designed.

Well, it seems like the time really HAS come for “artificial”, “synthetic”, or “virtual” AIS. Because my friends at Vesper Marine are actually DOING it. Check out this recent case study:


Vesper Marine has deployed what is thought to be New Zealand’s first Virtual AIS Beacon as an Aid to Navigation at the entrance to Doubtful Sound, a fjord in New Zealand’s South Island.

The extremely isolated and remote wilderness of New Zealand’s 15,000km of coastline presents some very interesting navigational challenges to both pleasure and commercial vessels.

Environment Southland, the authority responsible for one of the most remote regions of New Zealand coastlines, needed to ensure the 80 cruise ships entering and exiting the beautiful Doubtful Sound each summer could identify a very dangerous underwater obstacle known as Tarapunga Rock. This rock lies just below the surface, close to the entrance to Doubtful Sound. Environment Southland had moored an isolated danger buoy at the rock’s location; however as the swell could exceed 7 metres (23 feet) at times the buoy broke up and had to be removed.


The Virtual Aid to Navigation technology that Vesper Marine has developed is based on the international standardised marine Automatic Identification System (AIS), which all large ships must use and many smaller ships are now choosing to use due to the safety and collision avoidance benefits it provides.

Keep reading…it’s fascinating.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

mitko May 25, 2012 at 9:42 pm

C’mon, this is very simple thing. Virtual AtoNs already in use all around the world, this is not a Vesper Marine “know how” :)


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