Marine traffic increases continuously. This leads to an increasing complexity of traffic flow on all oceans and a higher probability of accidents as well as security incidents such as hijacking of ships. In order to support responsible authorities and improve the sea rescue services a real-time and high resolution maritime situation picture is obligatory. Within the joint research project “Real-Time Services for Maritime Security” (EMSec) funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) civil security research programme the Institute of Optical Sensor Systems developed an airborne remote sensing platform for the monitoring of maritime environments.
Main goal was the supply of an offshore sea monitoring within a zone of 12 sea miles. In order to achieve this goal the following technical and operational aims have been adressed.
In order to enable automatic object detection it was very important to develop universal algorithms which are working in different environments, recording times and under changing weather and water conditions. For a well working algorithm it was also necessary to use the special characteristics of each sensor. With the automatic object detection algorithm 98 percent of all objects are detected.
MACS-Mar is a special version of DLR's Modular Aerial Camera System and was designed as a tool for detecting maritime objects and abnormalities automatically by using a specific combination of optical sensors and algorithms. Therefore four optical sensor heads acquiring wavelengths from 400 nm to 14 µm were chosen, weighing a total mass of 23 kg including narrowband and broadband data downlink.
MACS-Mar sensor configuration
(Bayer color pattern)
Spectral Bands (nm)
4.864 x 3.232
3.296 x 2.472
1.024 x 768
80 x 80
GSD@820m above sea level (cm)
Field of view across track (deg)
CAD model of optical sensors (left) and MACS-SaR camera system for real-time operation (right)
Schwenk, Kurt und Willburger, Katharina A. M. und Pless, Sebastian (2017) AMARO-autonomous real-time detection of moving maritime objects: introducing a flight experiment for an on-board ship detection system. In: Earth Resources and Environmental Remote Sensing/GIS Applications VIII, 10428, Seite 1042808. SPIE Digital Library. Earth Resources and Environmental Remote Sensing/GIS Applications VIII, 11.-14. Sept. 2017, Warschau, Polen. DOI: 10.1117/12.2277991
Brauchle, Jörg und Bayer, Steven und Berger, Ralf (2017) Automatic Ship Detection on Multispectral and Thermal Infrared Aerial Images Using MACS-Mar Remote Sensing Platform. In: LECTURE NOTES IN COMPUTER SCIENCE. Springer Science. Pacific-Rim Symposium on Image and Video Technology (PSIVT 2017), 20.11.-24.11.217, Wuhan, China.
Bucher, Tilman und Berger, Ralf und Brauchle, Jörg und Hein, Daniel und Lehmann, Frank und Piltz, Björn und Scherbaum, Patrick und Stebner, Karsten und Pless, Sebastian (2016) Modular Photogrammetric Sensor Systems for Real-time Information Extraction and 3D-Applications. In: Publikationen der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Photogrammetrie, Fernerkundung und Geoinformation e.V., 25. 36. Wissenschaftlich-Technische Jahrestagung der DGPF, 07.-09. Juni 2016, Bern, Schweiz. ISSN 0942-2870
Scherbaum, Patrick und Brauchle, Jörg und Kraft, Thomas und Pless, Sebastian (2015) MACS-Mar – A Real-Time Capable Multisensor Remote Sensing System for Maritime Applications. In: 2015 IEEE International Conference on Aerospace Electronics and Remote Sensing Technology (ICARES). Curan Associates, Inc. ICARES 2015, 03.-05. Dez. 2015, Kuta, Bali, Indonesien. DOI: 10.1109/ICARES.2015.7429839 ISBN 978-1-4673-7714-0