7 Tech Tools For Determining Navigation Routes

Maritime transportation is a vital part of modern life. The global economy depends on the ability to move goods and services from one place to another. When it comes to navigation routes, there are different methods that can be used to determine which route will take a ship where it needs to go. Thanks to technology, there are now several tools available to help you make these decisions. Here are some of the tech tools that can help you determine navigation routes: 

1) Electronic Chart Display and Information System

An electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) is an important tool when determining a vessel’s course and speed. It displays all relevant data about your position, such as latitude and longitude coordinates, along with the time and date. This data is then displayed on a map screen so that you can see exactly where you are at any given moment. Newer technologies to this date make this feature as if you are just watching movies.

Aside from better navigational safety, ECDIS also makes it much easier for the navigator to find his destination, by allowing him to plan ahead for optimal arrival times. It can provide route planning, route monitoring, automated ETA calculation, and automatic ENC update.

2) Autopilot

Autopilot is considered one of the most important navigation tools out there. It's considered to be one of the most effective ways to help the human operator steer the ship by holding the steering in autopilot mode. With hydraulic, mechanical, and electrical systems, autopilot combines into a single unit that controls the steering of the vessel.  This tool allows the human operator to concentrate more on the broader aspects of the operation rather than spending all his/her time controlling the rudder.

3) Automatic Identification Systems

Automatic identification systems are devices that allow boats to broadcast their own location to passing ships using radio waves. They automatically transmit this information to nearby ships, thus avoiding collisions. AIS can either be manual or automatic. Manual AIS allows users to manually input their position into the device; however, automatic AIS uses GPS satellites to calculate the position without having to enter the coordinates manually.

This tech tool is very useful because it helps reduce human error since the device calculates the exact position of the boat itself based on signals received from the satellites. Shipping routes are usually determined using the best route between two points, but this method requires a lot of manpower and resources. However, with the use of AIS, we can easily calculate the shortest distance between two points, making it much faster and safer for shipping companies.

4) Global Positioning Systems

Global positioning systems are satellite-based technologies that allow us to know our precise geographical location anywhere on Earth. For maritime purposes, GPS receivers have been widely used to track vessels and monitor their positions.

GPS works by receiving signals from multiple orbiting satellites. As soon as the receiver receives the signal, it triangulates its position based on the timing of the signal. For the receiver to work properly, it must receive four separate transmissions from four different satellites. When combined, these signals form a single point on the surface of the earth.

Nowadays, this navigation tracking tool can be equipped with special features like autopilot, collision avoidance, or port call management for mariners. The most common feature is the ability to plot courses or navigate to specific destinations.

5) Voyage data recorder

A voyage data recorder (VDR) is a small electronic device that records information about a ship's voyage, similar to an airplane's black box. It is commonly found aboard large commercial vessels and oil tankers. In case of an accident or disaster, the details recorded by the VDR could help investigators determine what caused the incident. The VDRs contain a number of sensors, including pressure transducers, accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers, and altimeters.

6) Radar

Radar is another great tool that has become increasingly popular over the years. It is a type of electromagnetic radiation that travels through space in straight lines. This means that if radar detects something on one side of the ship, it should detect the same thing on the other side.

The advantage of a marine radar is that it works independently of weather conditions, unlike other types of navigation tools. It does not require a line of sight, so it can see objects at night or when visibility is low. Marine radars depend on S-band and X-band frequency radar systems to keep track of their surroundings.

7) Magnetic Compass

Although you may think that the magnetic compass isn't as technologically advanced as the others listed above, it still serves a vital role in fleet management. Maritime navigators use the magnetic compass to find their way around the world. This device uses the Earth's magnetic field to measure heading. Many ships mount a magnetic compass in the middle of the ship near the centerline. If the compass is placed correctly, it will display the correct course to the destination. 

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