A marine radar
Marine radars are x-band or s-band radar to provide bearing and distance of ships and land targets in vicinity from own ship for collision avoidance and navigation at sea...
with automatic radar plotting aid
(ARPA) capability can create tracks using radar contacts. The system can calculate the tracked object's course, speed and closest point of approach (CPA), thereby knowing if there is a danger of collision with the other ship or landmass.
Development of ARPA started after the accident when the Italian liner SS Andrea Doria
SS Andrea Doria[p] was an ocean liner for the Italian Line home ported in Genoa, Italy, most famous for its sinking in 1956, when 46 people died. Named after the 16th-century Genoese admiral Andrea Doria, the ship had a gross register tonnage of 29,100 and a capacity of about 1,200 passengers and...
collided in dense fog and sank off the east coast of the United States. ARPA radars started to emerge in the 1960s and, with the development of microelectronics. The first commercially available ARPA was delivered to the cargo liner
A Cargo liner is a type of merchant ship which carried general cargo and often passengers. They became common just after the middle of the nineteenth century, and eventually gave way to container ships and other more specialized carriers in the latter half of the twentieth...
MV Taimyr in 1969 and was manufactured by Norcontrol, now a part of Kongsberg Maritime
Kongsberg Maritime is a Norwegian technology enterprise within the Kongsberg Gruppen . Kongsberg Maritime deliver systems for positioning, surveying, navigation and automation to merchant vessels and offshore installations...
. ARPA-enabled radars are now available even for small yachts.
The availability of low cost microprocessor
A microprocessor incorporates the functions of a computer's central processing unit on a single integrated circuit, or at most a few integrated circuits. It is a multipurpose, programmable device that accepts digital data as input, processes it according to instructions stored in its memory, and...
s and the development of advanced computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...
technology during the 1970s and 1980s have made it possible to apply computer techniques to improve commercial marine RADAR
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...
systems. Radar manufactures used this technology to create the Automatic Radar Plotting Aids. ARPAs are computer assisted radar data processing systems which generate predictive vectors and other ship
The International Maritime Organization
The International Maritime Organization , formerly known as the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization , was established in Geneva in 1948, and came into force ten years later, meeting for the first time in 1959...
(IMO) has set out certain standards amending the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea
The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea is an international maritime safety treaty. The SOLAS Convention in its successive forms is generally regarded as the most important of all international treaties concerning the safety of merchant ships.- History :The first version of the...
requirements regarding the carrying of suitable automated radar plotting aids. The primary function of ARPAs can be summarized in the statement found under the IMO Performance Standards. It states a requirement of ARPAs: "to improve the standard of collision
avoidance at sea: Reduce the workload of observers by enabling them to automatically obtain information so that they can perform as well with multiple targets as they can by manually plotting a single target". As we can see from this statement the principal advantages of ARPA are a reduction in the workload of bridge personnel and fuller and quicker information on selected targets.
A typical ARPA gives a presentation of the current situation and uses computer technology to predict future situations. An ARPA assesses the risk of collision, and enables operator to see proposed maneuvers by own ship.
While many different models of ARPAs are available on the market, the following functions are usually provided:
- True or relative motion radar presentation.
- Automatic acquisition of targets plus manual acquisition.
- Digital read-out of acquired targets which provides course, speed, range, bearing, closest point of approach (CPA, and time to CPA (TCPA).
- The ability to display collision assessment information directly on the Plan Position Indicator
The plan position indicator , is the most common type of radar display. The radar antenna is usually represented in the center of the display, so the distance from it and height above ground can be drawn as concentric circles...
(PPI), using vectors (true or relative) or a graphical Predicted Area of Danger (PAD) display.
- The ability to perform trial maneuvers, including course changes, speed changes, and combined course/speed changes.
- Automatic ground stabilization for navigation purposes. ARPA processes radar information much more rapidly than conventional radar but is still subject to the same limitations. ARPA data is only as accurate as the data that comes from inputs such as the gyro and speed log.
Standalone and integral ARPAs
Over the past 10 years, the most significant changes to the ARPA systems have been in their design. The majority of ARPAs manufactured today integrate the ARPA features with the radar display.
The initial development and design of ARPAs were stand-alone units. That is because they were designed to be an addition to the conventional radar unit. All of the ARPA functions were installed on board as a separate unit but needed to interfaced with existing equipment to get the basic radar data. The primary benefits were cost and time savings. This of course was not the most ideal situation and eventually it was the integral ARPA that gradually replaced the stand-alone unit.
The modern integral ARPA combines the conventional radar data with the computer data processing systems into one unit. The main operational advantage is that both the radar and ARPA data are readily comparable.
From the time radar was first introduced to the present day the radar picture has been presented on the screen of a cathode ray tube. Although the cathode ray tube has retained its function over the years, the way in which the picture is presented has changed considerably. From about the mid-1980s the first raster-scan displays appeared. The radial-scan PPI was replaced by a raster-scan PPI generated on a television type of display. The integral ARPA and conventional radar units with a raster-scan display will gradually replace
the radial-scan radar sets.
The development of commercial marine radar entered a new phase in the 1980s when raster-scan displays that were compliant with the IMO Performance Standards were introduced.
The radar picture of a raster-scan synthetic display is produced on a television screen and is made up of a large number of horizontal lines which form a pattern known as a raster. This type of display is much more complex than the radial-scan synthetic display and requires a large amount of memory. There are a number of advantages for the operator of a raster-scan display and concurrently there are some deficiencies too. The most obvious advantage of a raster-scan display is the brightness of the picture. This allows the observer to view the screen in almost all conditions of ambient light. Out of all the benefits offered by a raster-scan radar it is this ability which has assured its success. Another difference between the radial-scan
and raster-scan displays is that the latter has a rectangular screen. The screen size is specified by the length of the diagonal and the width and height of the screen with an approximate ratio of 4:3. The raster-scan television tubes have a much longer life than a traditional radar cathode ray tube
The cathode ray tube is a vacuum tube containing an electron gun and a fluorescent screen used to view images. It has a means to accelerate and deflect the electron beam onto the fluorescent screen to create the images. The image may represent electrical waveforms , pictures , radar targets and...
(CRT). Although the tubes are cheaper over their counterpart, the complexity of the signal processing makes it more expensive overall.
The IMO Performance Standards for radar to provide a plan display with an effective display diameter of 180mm, 250mm, or 340mm depending upon the gross tonage of the vessel. With the diameter parameters already chosen, the manufacturer has then to decide how to arrange the placement of the digital numerical data and control status indicators. The raster-scan display makes it easier for design engineers in the way auxiliary data can be written.
- Automatic Identification System
The Automatic Identification System is an automatic tracking system used on ships and by Vessel traffic services for identifying and locating vessels by electronically exchanging data with other nearby ships and AIS Base stations...
– another navigation tool that generates tracks and closest approach information.
- Mini Automatic Radar Plotting Aid
Mini-automatic radar plotting aid is a radar feature for target tracking and collision avoidance. Targets must be manually selected, but are then tracked automatically, including range, bearing, target speed, target direction , CPA , and TCPA , safe or dangerous indication, and proximity alarm...
(MARPA) or Automatic Tracking Aid (ATA)