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VDES - Next Generation AIS

2 min read

After more than five years of research and international standardisation activities, Saab AB, TransponderTech has been working with core product development since 2017 of a complete VDES product portfolio that will succeed the current Saab R5 AIS portfolio. The first product in the new VDES portfolio, which will reach the market this summer, is the VDES base station, denoted R60 VDES Base Station.

AIS was successfully introduced by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for maritime navigation in 2002. Since then, virtually all commercial ships and recreational vessels have been equipped with AIS – worldwide. The expanding use of AIS has already caused a significant load on the capacity of the VHF Data Link (VDL) – it is overloaded in some busier areas.

The next generation of AIS – internationally called the VHF Data Exchange System (VDES) – will take into consideration future requirements for more data exchange capabilities. The AIS radio channels (VHF Data Link – VDL) will thus be protected from overload as AIS populations increase.

VDES make available up to 32 times more bandwidth compared to AIS and can provide unique satellite-to-ship communications, better integrity and cyber security technology. VDES will enter operation in 2020, and will likely remain in operation until at least until 2040.

The technology leap in VDES will give the shipping community new applications that ultimately provide better efficiency, safety, security and environmental protection.

One such concrete example of a new application is route exchange via STM technology (Sea Traffic Management). When VDES-equipped ships are within range of each other, they can not only exchange their current positions, but also their future routes. This will significantly increase situational awareness and safety. 

VDES is also designed for over-the-horizon satellite communications via LEO satellites. This means global communications in a secure and reliable network, reducing the communications barrier and making room for new exciting applications.

This will be a new era in the history of navigational safety. Recently achieved milestone for VDES was WRC-19 (World Radio Conference) in November 2019. In summary, VDES-SAT spectrum allocated at WRC-19. A major milestone for the shipping industry!

The next milestone will be IALA intersessional meeting (IALA-eNAV-COMMS) 3-7 Feb 2020.

Article author

Contact picture Roger Johansson

Roger Johansson

Director Business Development Malaysia