Coast Guard implements fully functioning "virtual" and "synthetic" electronic aids to navigation
In the future, some Navigation Aids may not be placed in the water and will only appear on electronic devices.
On March 12, 2014, the U.S. Coast Guard began operating 25 fully functioning "virtual" and "synthetic" electronic aids to navigation, or eATON, as the agency labels them, in San Francisco waters.
The Coast Guard, which operates AIS shore stations, now uses the technology to identify its aids to navigation and to signal the characteristics and coordinates of each to electronic charts and other navigation displays, and even via properly integrated personal computers, tablets, and cell phones. The broadcast system is now fully operational throughout the U.S., except in the Great Lakes. In addition to standard AIS capabilities, the technology includes three types of electronic aids classified as Synthetic, Real, and Virtual — and each has different uses and applications.