Saab, ORBCOMM and AAC Clyde Space to launch AOS maritime comms service

Saab, ORBCOMM and AAC Clyde Space have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to launch a global maritime communications service under a new brand named AOS, based on VHF Data Exchange System (VDES) technology.

In August 2020, the three firms announced the development of a space-based VDES system, to which AAC will deliver a 3U demonstration satellite planned to launch in the second half of 2022. By adding space-based capabilities to the VHF technology the communication system’s range increases from the shoreline to anywhere in the ocean, converting what is currently a predominantly coastal system into something with global coverage.

With up to 32 times more bandwidth than current Automatic Identification System (AIS) communication, VDES can be integrated with e-navigation systems or deployed for a wide range of other services, such as delivery of weather data or messaging, the partners said. Longer term, the parties intend to create a global VDES communication network with low latency and two-way bandwidth for ship-to- ship and ship-to-shore communication everywhere on the globe.

The cooperation project will occur in phases, including both terrestrial and space-based demonstrations of selected applications, to help fine tune the joint VDES efforts. AOS will act as the brand for the continued development of the services and is co-owned between the founder companies.

“The innovative VDES technology is gradually becoming established as the next generation of AIS. VDES will increase maritime safety and contribute to a greener shipping industry. We are proud to be part of the AOS cooperation and look forward to having our first VDES satellite up in space next year,” said Johanna Gustafsson, Head of Transpondertech at Saab.

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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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