Automatic Identification System was created over twenty years ago as a navigation aid for use in busy waters

AIS (Automatic Identification System) was created over twenty years ago as a navigation aid for use in busy waters. However, whilst radar provides basic information on the obstacles of a course, AIS-equipped transponders provide very accurate data in real time on the navigation of nearby boats, including:

– Vessel details — Vessel call sign, name, MMSI number, dimensions, type

– Voyage-Related Information — cargo type, destination and estimated time of arriva

– Dynamic Information — latitude/longitude position, course over ground, speed over ground, heading, rate of turn, navigational status.

Commercial vessels are obligated to install an AIS transponder under SOLAS regulations. For leisure sailors, this is still optional.

Since AIS (Automatic Identification System) was introduced it has been rapidly taken up as an essential safety aid. Today there are two main types of AIS product available to owners of leisure and small craft. They are AIS receivers such as the MXA-5000 or AIS Transponders such as the MA-500TR.

What is an AIS transponder?

An AIS transponder on your boat automatically receives information broadcast by other AIS-equipped vessels and base stations, all while your own vessel’s static and dynamic information is being transmitted. AIS signals may reach where radar cannot, showing AIS-equipped vessels that might otherwise be hidden, such as on the other side of an island or behind a larger vessel.

What is an AIS receiver?

AIS receivers allow boat owners to receive AIS information and outputs this real-time information to a computer, radar or a chart plotter, thus aiding navigation and collision avoidance. AIS Receivers only receive AIS messages so vessels can only see other vessels within VHF range, they CANNOT be seen by these vessels.