AIS Aids to Navigation

Section 1. Background

(Additional information about the AIS can be found on the Automatic Identification on Ships web page)

The introduction of new aids to navigation (AtoN) technologies requires a period of adaptation for mariners to assess the accuracy and added value related to safe navigation. A significant breakthrough has been achieved with regard to AIS aids to navigation (AIS AtoN), particularly for Virtual AIS AtoN (V-AtoN), as it is now possible to display information on navigation equipment that a lookout would not be able to detect.

The provision of information in a digital format adds to traditional navigation instruments and provides mariners with new tools in their decision-making process. In situations (such as a new reef or detected shoal) where the deployment of physical aids to navigation is not possible and other means of communication are restricted, broadcasting V-AtoN (and related navigation warnings) may in fact be the only feasible solution for providing critical information. Accordingly, mariners may need to base their decisions primarily on virtually displayed information. Since this new technology introduces navigation techniques outside of the standards for training that mariners receive, they need to acquire a sufficient level of confidence in the technology. To accomplish this, the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) has chosen an approach using supervised test beds and involving three types of AIS AtoN. The test beds are located in the Western, Central, Arctic and Atlantic regions in sites determined in collaboration with Canadian pilots.


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