Researchers at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) have designed an application for maritime surveillance that fuses information from different types of sensors using artificial intelligence.
The system has been designed by scientists for the maritime and aeronautic sectors. The first prototype will be used in the near future in Cape Verde (Africa).
A set of radars and a series of AIS (Automatic Identification System) radio towers allow ships to communicate their position and supply specific information on their name, size, location, speed and bearing.
The two different sensors offer complementary data, which is then fused.
The results of this research, presented last July at the International Conference on Information Fusion in Edinburgh, Scotland, has been the creation of data fusion software which allows improved maritime surveillance to be carried out, simultaneously integrating the capabilities of the radars and the AIS localization stations.
The objective is to guarantee security by monitoring the different ships that are in a given maritime route and at the entrance and exit of a commercial port. “For that”, Jesus Garcia, one of the heads of the study, “it is necessary to have a complete, accurate, and up to date picture, similar to that which is provided to air traffic controllers”.
The fused sensor suite is able to monitor 2,000 large and small vessels, with a capacity to process the data of up to 10 sensors with one second refresh time.
The Automatic Identification System works by interrogating a VHF transceiver that incorporates LORAN-C or GPS location information, with a gyrocompass or rate of turn indicators. All ocean-going vessels and commercial vessels over 65 feet are required to use AIS equipment by the International Maritime Organization.
Space-based AIS provides global coverage of maritime activity, re-transmiting GPS coordinates, along with bearing and speed. ExactEarth AIS satellites pass over Norway’s Svalbard Earth Station every 90 to 100 minutes. AIS tracks vessel movements in near real-time and updates every two minutes or so when near shore stations.
AIS is required aboard international voyaging ships of 300 or more tons, and all passenger ships regardless of size. It is estimated that more than 40,000 ships currently carry AIS class A equipment. AIS was initially intended to help ships avoid collisions, as well as assisting port authorities to better control sea traffic.