ESA title


  • ACTIVITYFeasibility Study
  • STATUSCompleted
  • THEMATIC AREAMaritime and Aquatic

Objectives of the service

AIS data is an important data stream which is used by many port operations like port logistics, ship planning, ship berthing, traffic security, VTS, ship anti-collision and vessel automation. A data product accessible via an API will be provided to the end-user. The source data is the current AIS data stream coming from the vessels in the port, where each field of the AIS stream is verified and cross checked by other data streams. Once a field is verified, it is confirmed or replaced with the corrected data. The verified data can be offered in the same AIS format to the existing port processes and upcoming processes like autonomous vessel navigation. Also, a correct positioning of moored structures that are currently not available in the port data streams and map servers can be provided as such.

Users and their needs

The targeted user community currently consists out of three groups:

  1. Ports: the harbour masters, pilots, logistic planners and security officers are responsible for all ship movements and planning in a port. AIS and hence verified AIS is an important data input for their activity.

  2. Waterway authorities: waterway authorities are providing pilot activity on their waterways.

  3. Vessel owners: Vessel owners want to have a reliable AIS signal merged with their on-board radar so they can use it for object avoidance.

The initial set of user needs for a verified AIS signal are:

  • The ship navigation track error should be less than 5 meter.

  • The ship cross track error should be also to less than 5 meter.

  • The ship draft error should be less than 0.25 meter.

  • So overall ship static position error should be less than 5 meter.

  • The ship speed error should be less than 2 knots.

Space assets have the potential of reducing the errors already to the range of 5m for AIS, hence additional data sources will be required to improve the resolution.

Service/ system concept

The solution is based on using current AIS signals fused with other data sources to improve current AIS data, hence AIS+, and deliver this to the customer via a separate API. Customers using this API receive an enriched AIS dataset.

The original AIS data is cross checked with other data sources and corrected in case mismatches are detected. Due to multi source verification the accuracy of the data can be guaranteed.

Available static sources are for example: VTS radars and port cameras. From these sources the draft and position of vessels can be derived via image processing techniques. Available dynamic land-based data sources are for example cameras and radar systems on autonomous survey platforms.

Space assets are also used as data sources. Earth observation (EO) techniques will be used to check positions. Vessels can be referenced to known infrastructure positions on GIS maps. When the ships are on a berth position that is known, space images can assist to refer it towards the infrastructure. Also differences between available GIS maps and the EO images can be identified. For example, floating docks are not visible on the GIS or navigation maps and can hinder manned and unmanned vessels.

Space Added Value

Determination of the correct X-Y offset of a vessel and undocumented semi-permanent structures need to be done either with long range LiDAR, viewpoint of a satellite or an airborne vehicle such as a drone. Earth observation is available worldwide, hence the service can be rolled out globally. The space asset cost structure allows the roll out towards smaller ports (no CAPEX), whereas land-based observation points introduce additional costs that influence the business case by adding CAPEX and OPEX.

Current Status

This feasibility study is finished. All technical risks were tackled in the technical feasibility study. The case is technical feasible. However, it seemed to be hard to close the business case in a viable way. Therefore, a lessons learnt report was drafted to conclude the project.

Prime Contractor(s)


Status Date

Updated: 16 December 2022