“While our VHF can send some data to the plotter, the radio integration has been basic,” says Jim McGowan, Raymarine’s product training manager. “Up until now we have not had full network access from the VHF. Right now we cannot tag a target and call it.”
With AIS increasingly in the mix as part of an electronics suite, there is more priority for the radio to be a participating member of the network, McGowan acknowledges, and Raymarine is committed to the necessary software and hardware upgrades. Connectivity is accomplished with standard NMEA 2000 messages, which the current generation of Raymarine VHF radios do not have.
“Sometime next year we are looking to add features to the network, and Raymarine’s next round of upgrades promises to incorporate an enhanced data connection,” McGowan says.
John Luther, product manager for GeoNav, says the company’s 10- and 12-inch self-contained multifunction displays, the G10 and G12, are limited in that respect. “This is not something we focused on initially,” he says. “We are doing some AIS integration. Our plans are to reserve some of those features for the GIS 10 and GIS 12 systems with the integrated network. In those products, the components will be able to talk to each other much better.”
Standard Horizon’s new CPN700i and CPN1010i plotters will also incorporate the AIS-MMSI direct call feature in the upgraded software, to be delivered with those plotters by summer, says vice president Jason Kennedy. Until then, Standard’s GX2150 Matrix AIS+, which is a VHF with an integrated AIS receiver, will automatically initiate communication with a target vessel. The GX2000, a simple VHF, also features the AIS target direct calling when you connect it to an external AIS, says Kennedy.