Navigators use new radar systems with advanced graphical interfaces for better target tracking and higher vessel safety
A new generation of radar technology has been unleashed in maritime that has better hazard identification and display capabilities for shipping.
JRC and Alphatron Marine introduced a Mark 2 version of the JMA-5200/5300 radar series for the ProLine range of integrated bridge systems for ships and workboats in April. The company reintroduced this product range following requests from vessel operatorsm after discontinuing the first version of this series two years ago.
JMA 5200/5300 Mk2 was adapted to the latest IMO rules for performance and human-machine interfaces. It has an updated graphical user interface and a high-resolution Eizo DuraVision monitor. JRC's JMA 5300 radar series is IMO type-approved for vessels up to 10,000 gt, while the JMA 5200 radar series is available for non-SOLAS vessels ranging from a dome radar up to an S-band version.
These radar series have a longer life than the previous version because of brushless antenna motors. JRC says it included advanced features that enable both radars’ images to run more quickly and efficiently than before.
Radar images are fully processed within a few milliseconds before being displayed, which JRC says generates a smooth image rotation when sailing in head-up mode. When changing to a North-up mode, the new radar image is displayed without any delay caused by the scanner rotation.
JMA 5200/5300 Mk2 display AIS data and can act as automatic radar plotting aids. Their images can include wind and echosounder information on a dedicated segment on the screen.
Furuno introduced new versions of its DRS X-class of radar antenna in Q1 2019, with improved short-range detection of different types of object while keeping its long-range capabilities. These radar have a minimum detection distance of 20 m and can range out to 95 nautical miles.
They have fast target tracking, which means they can display up to 30 targets simultaneously and show heading and speed information for each. DRS X-class also have new gearbox pedestal units which are 20% lighter than previous radar series, and low-noise motors.
Furuno added more functionality to the target tracking. For example, the DRS6A X-class can disseminate bird echoes from other nautical targets up to 5 nautical miles. It can distinctly separate birds from a nearby vessel in motion because vessels show a straight and clear echo trail, while bird echoes are identifiable by their random motion.
Navico unveiled its Simrad R5000 series radar for commercial shipping in December 2018. This series is available in a range of configurations, including IMO type-approved X- and S-band to go on CAT 1 and CAT 2 SOLAS vessels and high-speed craft. Simrad R5000 have a modular design and can be networked with up to four radar sensors, four master/slave consoles and unlimited clone stations. They are paired with a 24-in or 27-in widescreen display with intuitive keypad and trackball controls.
Simrad R5000 details
Simrad R5000 X-band radar is available with 6-ft, 9-ft or 12-ft open array antennas and 12-kW or 25-kW up-mast transceiver or 25-kW down-mast transceiver for resistance in harsh marine environments. The S-band radar has a 12-ft open array antenna paired with a 30-kW S-band transceiver in up-mast or down-mast configurations.
Furuno DRS X-class radar
Type (power): DRS6A X-class, 6 kW, 4 A
Type (power): DRS12A X-class, 12 kW, 4.5 A
Type (power): DRS24A X-class, 24 kW, 5.6 A
Voltage feed: all 24 V direct current
Antennas: all 1,255, 1,795 mm (plus 1,016 mm on DRS6A)
Range: 020 m to 95 nautical miles
Temperature -25˚ to 55˚C
Weight range 20-24 kg
Tracking: display up to 30 targets simultaneously
Sperry Marine released a major upgrade to its VisionMaster FT bridge software in Q1 2019 to improve ECDIS and radar alarm management. VMFT11 has simplified user interfaces and secures data exchanges on board vessels and between ship and shore.
Sperry Marine technical manager Simon Cooke says this upgrade decreases the mariner’s workload in alert management. “Managing alerts on radar and ECDIS has been a problem for years, because too many alarms were categorised as high priority,” he says. “Owners found their officers spent too much time managing alerts when they should have been focusing on navigation.”
VMFT11 aligns bridge alert management with the ability to temporarily silence alerts and refine prioritisation. “Alarms are reserved for conditions where the mariner needs to take immediate action to maintain the safe navigation and operation of the vessel,” says Mr Cooke.
Alerts are presented visually using standard icons that seafarers would be familiar with and are designed using colour and shape to differentiate the messages.
VMFT11 integrates Sperry Marine’s latest type-approved cyber security tool, Secure Maritime Gateway, which uses multiple firewalls and a separation to control traffic flows between the back and front of the bridge. This enables secure connection of these two critical shipboard networks with an external connection to shore management with a new degree of cyber hardening.
VMFT11 has a new system of vessel route exchange using the RTZ format, which enables exchange of route optimisation software between ECDIS and planning stations.
Sperry Marine enhanced the central alert management system within VMFT11 to harmonise the presentation of alerts, improve prioritisation, categorisation and display of alerts.