Can your system pick up virtual markers?

Tests are taking place in the Solent around Bramble Bank for a new development of AIS. A virtual beacon now marks the Bramble Pile, reports Paul Sumpner of electronics firm Digital Yacht. This is to check whether AIS units can display a new development to the system: ‘virtual’ markers used for wrecks or new shoals.

AIS now has the ability to represent aids to navigation (AtoN), such as buoys and beacons, electronically and this comes in three forms:
AIS ATON – This is either a physical mark equipped with its own AIS transceiver, or a physical mark at sea with an AIS base station located to transmit the data representing the mark, but not from the mark. Such a shore based base station could transmit data covering several physical marks.

VATON. These marks would only be apparent to an AIS-equipped vessel with an electronic display capable of showing such signals. There would be no physical mark at sea. These might typically be used when there has been a recent hazard to navigation identified, such as wreck in a channel.

But not all AIS systems will be able to ‘read’ the virtual displays, warn the Cruising Association.

For the full story see Yachting Monthly’s June issue.