ORBCOMM adds ‘dark’ vessel tracking capabilities with Unseenlabs partnership

Satellite AIS data provider ORBCOMM has entered into an agreement with Unseenlabs, a French company that specialises in the geolocation of ships at sea and satellite Radio Frequency (RF) detection from space, to offer satellite-collected RF services for maritime surveillance applications to ORBCOMM customers.

Unseenlabs’ RF emissions detection services use a dedicated satellite constellation to enable surveillance of ‘dark’ vessels at sea, those that have turned off their AIS transponders to engage in illegal activities or evade authorities.

Using RF technology that identifies electromagnetic waves emitted by ships, Unseenlabs says that it is able to geolocate any vessel at sea from space, in near-real time and regardless of weather conditions to within a kilometre, from a single nanosatellite. The process provides a unique electromagnetic fingerprint for the ship, to enable unfalsifiable identification of the emitter.

Following this new deal ORBCOMM will supplement its own AIS data with data from Unseenlabs to improve its range of vessel tracking and monitoring services for its customers.

“We are excited to work with Unseenlabs to pursue new opportunities for their space-based maritime surveillance services through our partnerships with maritime information providers as well as our key government customers,” said Greg Flessate, ORBCOMM’s Senior Vice President and General Manager of Government, AIS and Business Operations.

“Unseenlabs’ unique RF emission detection technology is a critical tool to identify and report bad actors turning off their AIS devices while engaged in illegal activities at sea such as unregulated fishing, violating trade sanctions, environmental pollution and drug and human trafficking.”

ORBCOMM is also currently working with AAC Clyde Space and Saab to develop a new space-based VHF Data Exchange System (VDES) satellite, expected to launch in 2022, which will allow the company to offer additional services for maritime communications.

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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