Manufacturers of hardware and software for radar have introduced new models and programs to improve target detection, ice navigation and situational awareness
Bridge system manufacturers revealed the latest in radar technology during the SMM exhibition in Hamburg, Germany in September. This comes at a time when there are greater demands on tugs and workboats to provide safer towage over longer distances and emergency response.
Navico introduced a new series of radar for workboats and tugs, fishing vessels, high-speed vessels and coastal shipping with a more advanced processor and interface.
Simrad R5000 Series is available in X-band and S-band and with three sizes of antenna. It has a faster processor and new user interface with 24-in and 27-in displays that makes it “easier to operate”, said Navico product line director Mike Fargo at the SMM exhibition in Hamburg, Germany.
He told Tug Technology & Business that this radar has “flexible architecture” allowing it to be used with multifunctional workstations and in a multi-radar bridge system. It has better target detection than previous Simrad radar and a modular system for easy installation.
It is a digital radar that enables information to be communicated around the bridge using Ethernet cables, said Mr Fargo. Radar images are displayed on 24-in and 27-in screens on vessel bridges, but can be viewed on smaller displays.
Simrad’s radar comes with 12 kW or 25 kW of power for X-band and 30 kW for S-band. Its antenna comes in three sizes, 6, 8 and 12-ft diameter.
R5000 Simrad radar can be used on workboat newbuilding projects, but Mr Fargo expects there to be more orders from retrofit projects, “for customers that want to upgrade their radar.”. R5000 can be used on tugs and other workboats, naval patrol vessels, across fishing fleets and coastal dry cargo ships for safe navigation and small target detection.
“We will also develop ice and oil detection and tracking capabilities by using algorithms and tuning radar”
Navico will continue to develop this radar platform with overlays for electronic chart systems. “We will also develop ice and oil detection and tracking capabilities by using algorithms and tuning radar,” said Mr Fargo.
Furuno released a new platform for its radar at SMM. It introduced the FAR-22x8/23x8 series with an updated radar antenna design and improved signal processing techniques. This advanced technology will increase situational awareness and enable safer navigation, said Furuno UK area manager Paul McKenzie.
However, users of the FAR-2xx8 series radar will not need additional training as the software and main functionality is similar to the FAR-2xx7 series, which can be upgraded to the equivalent in the FAR-2xx8 series without major changes to user software interface.
Furuno said the main features of the FAR-2xx8 series include automatic clutter elimination (ACE) for increased clarity of echo returns. ACE adjusts the radar image by changing the clutter reduction filters and gain-control according to sea and weather conditions.
There is a fast target tracking function to prevent collisions through improvements in the accuracy of tracking information, such as speed and course vectors. Mr McKenzie pointed out the InstantAccess bar that gives the user immediate access to functions. This contains shortcut menus of tasks, functions and actions that operators frequently use and is similar to other Furuno bridge equipment.
Furuno has improved radar controllers so that all operations can be controlled with the trackball. There is also a solid-state model for S-band radar that generates clear echo images around the workboat for specialised target detection.
Furuno has developed oil detection and ice detection radar. These use different processing techniques to navigation radar, said Mr McKenzie. Oil tracking radar detects fluids that would suppress wave patterns viewed as clutter on navigation radar, he explained. “We can detect the shadow on the clutter that indicates the presence of oil.”
Ice radar uses image processing to identify cracks in ice or soft ice that could be used for navigation and towage in Arctic conditions.
Northrop Grumman subsidiary Sperry Marine revealed its networked radar for the VisionMaster Net integrated bridge system during SMM. VisionMaster SeaGuard is Sperry’s first commercial radar that can instantly detect small targets in all conditions.
It provides the “highest levels of precision and resilience to significantly improve situational awareness” said Sperry Marine managing director James Collett. The radar converts analogue signals to digital data in the antenna. “Then we can move this IP data around the vessel so it can be displayed on the bridge or in the master’s cabin,” he said.
“Data could also go back to shore for remote monitoring and diagnostics of bridge equipment,” Mr Collett added. VisionMaster SeaGuard will be available in X-band and S-band with antennas ranging from 6-20 ft from Q2 2019.
First, Sperry Marine needs to get this new radar product type-approved. “We are working with Lloyd’s Register and demonstrating this radar works to IMO-approved standards and testing its endurance.”
Its sea trials are on a cross-Channel ferry and it will be available for merchant shipping from med-2019. Mr Collett said VisionMaster SeaGuard would be adapted for smaller vessels, including tugs, in 2020. There could also be a range of variants to the VisionMaster Net bridge system for tugs in that year.
Wärtsilä Marine Solutions ensured it was at the forefront of radar technology by unveiling a solid-state S-band unit for its Nacos Platinum integrated bridge system. Wärtsilä product manager for navigation systems Eberhard Maass said this radar optimises target detection without needing a magnetron in the antenna. This “significantly reduces maintenance costs compared to conventional radar systems” he said.
Nacos Platinum radar will be an integral part of the company’s navigation offering from mid-2019. It will then become part of Wärtsilä’s smart marine vision, Mr Maass explained. This involves the latest radar technologies “together with high levels of digitalisation and connectivity, to ensure even greater efficiencies and added safety,” he said.
Rutter Inc has upgraded the software of its sigma S6 product line for processing and interpreting radar data. Version 9.2.0 is available for existing and new conventional marine navigational and coastal surveillance radar.
This software version has enhanced radar imagery, target detection, tracking, and measurement capabilities. Rutter’s product suite includes radar for ice navigation, oil spill detection, small target surveillance and the sigma S6 WaMoS II wave and surface current system.
Rutter said the software update includes greater colour display for enhanced visual distinction of potential hazards, improved vessel motion compensation and adaptive sensitivity time control for near-range target detection. Rutter has also reduced the required hardware footprint on board vessels and added image compression for remote access to radar data.
Radar is being produced by a consortium of German organisations and companies that can detect and track a person that has fallen into the sea off a ship. Fraunhofer FHR is working with Raytheon Anschütz and FH Aachen to produce a radar and lifesaving system that can identify and visualise a person overboard.
Within the SEERAD project, they are creating a radar receive and transmit antenna and transponders for lifejackets to improve recovery of people in the sea. These transponders are around 5 cm x 2.5 cm and will be integrated with the jackets to reflect signals from radar.
SEERAD project partners are building a harmonic radar module that sends signals in S-band and receives them with twice the frequency in C-band. It can use these reflected signals to locate a person in the water.
Passive reflectors in the lifejackets will have a range of around 1 km. If they have a water-activated battery, their range is increased to 10 km. SEERAD could be used on vessels involved in search and rescue.