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Fastrax to Supply GPS Receivers for McMurdo’s Safety Beacons

Fastrax Ltd. has finalized an agreement to provide Fastrax GPS receivers for the Automatic Identification System Search and Rescue Transmitter (AIS SART) safety beacons of McMurdo.

Fastrax GPS Receivers

These beacons determine precise position using GPS data and transmit the course and range to survivors onto standard AIS displays installed on ships in the vicinity. McMurdo Ltd is a developer and producer of emergency location beacons, while Fastrax supplies tracking systems, GPS receivers, and software GPS solutions to location-aware gadgets.

The AIS SART technology was implemented on January 1, 2010, by the International Maritime Organization for its carriage requirements as a new substitute to the customary radar-enabled SART.  The Smartfind S5, the first AIS SART product of McMurdo, uses the low power consuming and highly sensitive IT310 GPS receiver of Fastrax for speedy determination of precise locations of survival crafts.

The Smartfind S5 is compact and is installed on life rafts, survival crafts, and ship bridges, and is packed into a fast release carry off bag to facilitate fast evacuation. When Smartfind is activated, it sends alert messages that include its identity number and geographical position for at least 96 hours. Minute-by-minute update of location is done, and four messages each are sent on AIS 1 and AIS 2. In a time period of 14 second all eight messages are sent. The 14-second time period caters for maximizing the probability that one of the eight transmissions will correspond to the AIS SART that is at the wave top, thereby increasing the reception probability.  Only one out of the eight messages is required to be received from time to time for precisely locating the AIS SART.

According to John Norrish, McMurdo’s New Product Specialist, emergency location beacons depend on positioning technology that provides precise location data under adverse conditions, and ensuring sufficient operation time through low power consumption. Norrish explained that the power consumption by an AIS SART-based beacon depends mostly on the GPS receiver, and the IT310 GPS receiver module of Fastrax fared better than similar competitor modules by virtue of its lower power drain. Norrish has revealed that Fastrax had helped McMurdo to understand the design and development technique, besides collaborating with McMurdo to optimize the performance of the GPS.

Taneli Tuurnala, Fastrax’s President and CEO, has revealed that Fastrax has focused on providing optimized GPS performance, along with reliability and stability to meet the requirements of demanding applications. Tuurnala has said that Fastrax felt it was the most rewarding experience out of all applications to note that its technology was used to improve safety, and Fastrax is looking ahead to continue its successful venture for the challenging marine application sector.

The SiRFStarIII LPx chipset-based Fastrax IT310 is designed for use in battery-operated devices and navigation systems. The low power design of Fastrax IT310 is further reinforced by configurable power management, positioning Fastrax IT310 in the category of OEM GPS receivers that consume the least power in the market.

McMurdo was able to utilize a smaller battery to supply power for the stipulated operating time of 96 hours due to the least power drain capability of the Fastrax IT310, and also make the product lighter and suitably sized to make mounting easier.


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