AIS offers many benefits to Aids to Navigation including chaining which can increase an AIS base station’s range, weather and sea monitoring capabilities and vessel monitoring and tracking.
AtoNs are designed to be deployed close to land, or out at sea and have many benefits to both mariners and coastal monitoring centres. The key differentiator between AtoNs is their power consumption. As they are stationed out at sea they must rely on the power generated by the buoy, largely using solar panels, which also powers the other systems onboard the buoy.
Depending on power consumption, AtoNs can be feature rich including sensors that monitor metrological and hydrological factors, chaining capabilities to increase the range of base stations and monitor traffic in ports and along the coastline.
AtoNs offer two different types of transmission types - Random Access Time Division Multiple Access and Fixed Access Time Division Multiple Access. Devices that use the FATDMA transmission type have their slots on the AIS slot map controlled by AIS base stations ashore. This ensures their transmissions get through, and keeps power consumption down. RATDMA type AtoNs use more power as they behave like a Class B device and must power up prior to sending to scan for available space. Whilst FATDMA devices are largely used for environmental testing, RATDMA devices can be used for monitoring traffic and enhancing the range of a base station.