As the IMO further develops the concept of e-navigation a potential new technology that is referred to as AIS on steroids is being explored. VHF had traditionally been used for voice transmission until the advent of AIS. VHF Data Exchange System (VDES) began as a concept developed by the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) e-NAV Committee. It was originally developed to address emerging indications of overload of VHF Data Link (VDL) of AIS and simultaneously enabling a wider seamless data exchange for the maritime community.
With VDES it will be possible to send broadband data making it more economical for ships to maintain a data connection at sea by eliminating the need to use satellites in coastal waters, while not compromising on the global connectivity satellites will be able to provide in the future. VDES is expected to cover up to 50 kilometres from the nearest land- based equipment, which will allow ships to benefit from modern communication and navigation methods without increasing costs.
VDES is capable of facilitating numerous applications for safety and security of navigation, protection of marine environment, efficiency of shipping and others. Proponents claim it could have a significant beneficial impact on maritime information services including Aids to Navigation and VTS in the future.