How a fully autonomous AIS unit adds value to worldwide vessel tracking

in Research, Updates, Partnering by

In June 2021, we announced FleetMon’s Innovation Lab, bundling all our Research & Development projects. There’s something new coming out of the Lab:

Around a year ago, we started a pilot project in collaboration with Julius Marine, a local producer of buoys and fairway lighting. The project aims to develop a modular, autonomous AIS station that runs in locations without a power supply or a stable internet connection. In addition to an AIS receiving antenna, the station also contains a variety of measuring sensors. It works autonomously, enabled by two solar panels that supply the powerful battery and the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) module for data transmission with energy. This means that the weatherproof station can operate outside all year round to receive ship position data and other measurement data. Servicing the autonomous AIS station is not necessary.

from left to right: Sebastian Olias, AIS Network Manager at FleetMon, Frank Hartmann of the University Wismar in Warnemünde, Björn Mörer and Florian Schröder of JULIUS Marine GmbH

On August 10, 2021, the two companies installed the first ready-built prototype of the autonomous station on the roof of the university building in Warnemünde. The Wismar University of Applied Sciences, with the field of seafaring, systems engineering and logistics, is interested in the project since the institution is planning a variety of technology and sensor experiments involving the autonomous station. Besides, the University of Wismar is an associated partner of the MAREMIS research project coordinated by JAKOTA Cruise Systems | FleetMon. The project investigates air pollution and emissions from ships and their spread in large ports like Singapore and Hamburg using a ship emissions model and sensor-based emission data.

Given advancing climate change, the collection and reduction of emissions from shipping is a leitmotif of the maritime industry. The prototype of an autonomous station, designed and manufactured by FleetMon and Julius Marine GmbH, is very suitable for collecting sensor-based emission data in ports.

FleetMon operates its own AIS receiving antenna network to receive ship position data worldwide. The terrestrial network has grown strongly over the past decade and is now one of the most extensive ones in the industry. We’re able to monitor more than 270.000 vessels daily and receive over a million individual ship position data each day. For installing an AIS receiving antenna in coastal areas, it is needed to guarantee a constant power supply and maintain stable internet access. Inaccessible stretches of coastline that offer neither a power supply nor an internet connection have made it impossible to install an AIS antenna for terrestrial reception of ship position data. With the autonomous station by FleetMon and Julius Marine GmbH, this challenge can finally be mastered, which improves monitoring of worldwide shipping traffic. From now on, it is also possible to collect ship position data and sensor-based data from isolated locations, driving insights, e.g., with regards to emission pollution.

The autonomous station on the rooftop of the University of Wismar in Warnemünde will operate on a year-long trial basis. In the meantime, similar-built prototypes are being installed in Esslingen and Bremen to gather even more knowledge and test the unit and its components.

Reach out to our AIS Team to know more about the project.