The AIS system (Automatic Identification System) is a network which allows automatic exchange of data such as boat position, MMSI no., length/width/course etc… through the marine VHF digital network, provided that the boat is equipped with an AIS transponder.
The SOLAS convention requires that all freight and passenger vessels* sailing in AIS-nerworked waters must be equipped with the AIS capability.
*vessels built after July 2002.
Recreational boats can receive this kind of data through an AIS receiver and display the data on compatible navigation instruments, allowing a better tracking of nearby traffic.
When connected to an optional AIS receiver, 8120 & 8084 multifunction units, TrackFish 6507 Combo and GPS-Tracker5607 & 5507 can display the AIS data (NMEA0183 input).
Why do you need to receive AIS information?
Due to VHF's longer wavelength, AIS has particular use in identifying targets that may be obscured by poor visibility, or behind larger targets like low islands and large ships that radar cannot penetrate. We recommend that you upgrade your radar system with an AIS installation if you cruise in very busy navigation areas.
How does AIS work? All AIS information is transmitted by vessels and AIS navigation aids equipped with VHF transponders, a unit capable to receive and transmit AIS data.
Your AIS receiver «listens» to those transmissions. The receiver sends appropriate data to your AIS-chartplotter and is presented on your chart or on a full data screen; you can also activate alarms.