News Update

Saab explores Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) Satellite Communication for Global Maritime Connectivity

Sep 2020 | No Comment

Saab will, together with the companies ORBCOMM and AAC Clyde Space, lead a groundbreaking Swedish space project; to develop space based communication for the maritime sector via the new automatic tracking standard, VDES. The new VDES package does not only enable safer, more sustainable and greener shipping but the technology also has spin-off potential for other industries.

Saab has in recent years broadened its offer to include space based products and solutions. The company is now taking a next step and investing in a satellite project that will expand global data communication opportunities for the maritime industry but also potentially for other industrial Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

The first demonstration satellite is intended to be followed by a larger constellation of satellites that will form the new part of the maritime communication infrastructure. The space-based infrastructure would increase VDES range from the shoreline to anywhere in the world, converting what is currently a predominantly coastal system into a global maritime system.  For the first time, all ships in service with VDES can carry out two-way communication with each other across the globe, like a secure wireless internet for shipping.

For the last 20 years, Saab has been leading maritime traffic management with products using the Automatic Identification System (AIS). Now the next generation of AIS is taking form within an international VDES standard. The VHF Data Exchange System (VDES) has up to 32 times more bandwidth compared to AIS. The system will transmit small data packages between satellites, ships and shore, which will facilitate the maritime transport systems. Furthermore, AIS can be used as before since the system boasts full backward compatibility. But the VDES system will not only provide the opportunity for positioning and communication (as the AIS system does) but also serve as an enabler for e-navigation and autonomous shipping. The technology might even be applicable for other usage as for example (IoT) communication between owner and cargo, transported both at sea and on land.

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