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Title:
SYSTEM FOR CONTROLLING AND MANAGING DOCKING IN A SEA AREA
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2004/032064
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention concerns a system for controlling and managing docking in a sea area, comprising one or more fields having one or more buoys, characterised in that the equipped buoys (1) are apt to communicate with at least one control station (2). Each one of said equipped buoys (1) comprises first radiocommunication means (8; 9) apt to communicate with second radiocommunication means (14) with which said at least one control station (2) is provided. Each one of said equipped buoys (1) further comprises electronic means (5; 6) apt to transmit an interrogation signal for carrying out a passive radio frequency communication with at least one transmitter-responder or transponder (7), in such a way that said at least one transponder (7), when interrogated, talks with the electronic means (5; 6) providing at least one identification code. The electronic means (5; 6) transmit, through the first radiocommunication means (8; 9), said at least one identification code to said at least one control station (2). The present disclosure further concerns the elements usable in such a system for controlling and managing docking.

Inventors:
Lombardi, Valerio (Italgest Information Technology S.p.A, Piazza Garibaldi 2, Casarano, I-73042, IT)
De Masi, Ivano Tommaso (Italgest Information Technology S.p.A, Piazza Garibaldi 2, Casarano, I-73042, IT)
Application Number:
PCT/IT2003/000582
Publication Date:
April 15, 2004
Filing Date:
September 29, 2003
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
ITALGEST INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY S.P.A. (Piazza Garibaldi 2, Casarano, I-73042, IT)
Lombardi, Valerio (Italgest Information Technology S.p.A, Piazza Garibaldi 2, Casarano, I-73042, IT)
De Masi, Ivano Tommaso (Italgest Information Technology S.p.A, Piazza Garibaldi 2, Casarano, I-73042, IT)
International Classes:
B63B22/02; B63B22/24; G07B15/02; G08G3/00; (IPC1-7): G07B15/00; B63B22/02; B63B22/24; G08G3/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO1994007206A1
Foreign References:
EP0945552A1
US4903243A
DE19726015A1
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Scilletta, Andrea (Ing. Barzanò & Zanardo Roma S.p.A, Via Piemonte 26, Roma, I-00187, IT)
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Claims:
CLAIMS
1. System for controlling and managing docking in a sea area, comprising one or more fields having one or more buoys, characterised in that said buoys are equipped buoys (1) apt to communicate with at least one control station (2), each one of said equipped buoys (1) comprising first radiocommunication means (8; 9) apt to communicate with second radiocommunication means (14) with which said at least one control station (2) is provided, each one of said equipped buoys (1) further comprising electronic means (5; 6) apt to transmit an interrogation signal for carrying out a passive radio frequency communication with at least one transmitterresponder or transponder (7), in such a way that said at least one transponder (7), when interrogated, talks with the electronic means (5; 6) providing at least one identification code, the electronic means (5; 6) transmitting, through the first radiocommunication means (8; 9), said at least one identification code to said at least one control station (2).
2. System according to claim 1, characterised in that it further comprises an operative centre (3), said at least one control station (2) of each buoy field comprising further communication means (15) apt to communicate with the operative centre (3), said at least one control station (2) being apt to send to this information related to the corresponding buoy field.
3. System according to claim 1 or 2, characterised in that the electronic means (5; 6) comprises an antenna (6) housed in a structure of the equipped buoy (1), said at least one transponder (7) having a housing having a shape apt to spatially arrange itself with respect to said structure of the antenna (6) in such a way to achieve electromagnetic visibility conditions with the antenna (6) itself.
4. System according to claim 3, characterised in that the structure housing the antenna (6) and the housing of the transponder (7) have the shape of two corresponding rings.
5. System according to claim 4, characterised in that the ring structure housing the antenna (6) is apt to receive a passing rope (13) and is provided with means detecting the presence of a rope (13), following the detection of the presence of a rope (13) the electronic means (5; 6) transmitting said interrogation signal.
6. System according to any one of the preceding claims 3 to 5, characterised in that each one of said equipped buoys (1) comprises a float (4), to which the structure housing the antenna (6) is coupled, the interior of the float (4) and of the structure housing the antenna (6) being watertight, an autonomous electric power supply (10; 11) being housed within the float (4), which supply comprises at least one solar panel (10), housed in correspondence with at least one transparent portion of the float (4), connected to a power supply storage battery (11).
7. System according to claim 6, characterised in that the float (4) is in plastic reinforced by fibber glass and/or polycarbonate.
8. System according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the first radiocommunication means (8; 9) is apt to communicate with the second radiocommunication means (14) according to the Wifi communication standard.
9. System according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that said at least one control station (2) is housed in a mimetic structure, comprising at least one solar panel (17) connected to a power supply storage battery (18).
10. System according to claim 9, characterised in that the mimetic structure of said at least one control station (2) is a watertight container in rock shape made of fibber glass and/or polycarbonate.
11. System according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that said at least one control station (2) comprises at least one camera (16) for video taking the corresponding buoy field.
12. System according to claim 11, when dependent on claim 2, characterised in that said at least one control station (2) is apt to send to the operative centre (3) one or more images taken by said at least one camera (16).
13. System according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that said at least one transponder (7) is contained within a watertight shockresistant floating plastic material moulded container.
14. System according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that said at least one transponder (7) memorises said at least one identification code in encrypted form.
15. System according to claim 2 or any one of claims 3 to 14, when dependent on claim 2, characterised in that said further communication means (15) of said at least one control station (2) comprises at least one device (15) of telephonic communication, via cable or GPRS, and/or at least one communication device (15) through radio link for connecting to the operative centre (3).
16. System according to claim 15, characterised in that the communication between said at least one control station (2) and the operative centre (3) occurs through protected Internet connection.
17. System according to claim 2 or any one of claims 3 to 16, when dependent on claim 2, characterised in that the operative centre (3) comprises further communication means through cellular telephony via SMS (Short Message Service) messages.
18. Equipped buoy (1) characterised in that it comprises first radiocommunication means (8; 9) apt to communicate with second radiocommunication means (14) with which at least one control station (2) is provided, in that it also comprises electronic means (5; 6) apt to transmit an interrogation signal for carrying out a passive radio frequency communication with at least one transponder (7), in such a way that said at least one transponder. (7), when interrogated, talks with the electronic means (5; 6) providing at least one identification code, the electronic means (5; 6) transmitting, through the first radiocommunication means (8; 9), said at least one identification code to said at least one control station (2), the equipped buoy (1) being further characterised in that it is usable in a system for controlling and managing docking in a sea area according to any one of the preceding claims 117.
19. Control station (2) comprising second radiocommunication means (14) apt to communicate with first radiocommunication means (8; 9) with which at least one equipped buoy (1) is provided, the control station (2) being characterised in that it is usable in a system for controlling and managing docking in a sea area according to any one of the preceding claims 117.
20. Transmitterresponder or transponder (7) apt, when interrogated, to talk with electronic means (5; 6), in such a way to provide at least one identification code, the transponder (7) being characterised in that it is usable in a system for controlling and managing docking in a sea area according to any one of the preceding claims 117.
Description:
SYSTEM FOR CONTROLLING AND MANAGING DOCKING IN A SEA AREA The present invention concerns a system for controlling and managing docking, the application of which is particularly advantageous for protected sea parks, which enables docking in specific sea areas in a non invasive way with respect to the sea environment, monitoring and managing docking itself in a reliable, simple, and effective way.

The present invention further concerns the elements usable in such a system for controlling and managing docking.

Although greatly important for the protection of the environment in highly valuable zones at risk of deterioration, the establishment of sea parks is generally received with deep distrust by local people and tourists, with particular reference to the users of pleasure crafts.

This is due to the fact that, in order to protect the environment, the administrative offices of the parks tend to limit the admissions to the most beautiful zones, making admissions difficult and often very expensive.

Moreover, in these zones a tourist does not find particular protection measures, or services, or particular facilities.

The result is often a general dissatisfaction of both local populations, which observe a decrease in tourists, and pleasure craft users, which feel injured in their right of free navigation and of docking in the most beautiful places.

In fact, it is just the docking that creates the most diffused problems to the sea environment; in fact, even the sailboats, although

generally having a lower environmental impact and being used by pleasure craft users with greater sense of respect for the sea, create damages to the bottom absolutely comparable with the ones caused by the motorboats.

It is therefore an object of the present invention to enable docking in specific sea areas, in particular sea parks, in a non invasive way with respect to the sea environment.

It is further object of the present invention also to enable controlling and managing docking in a reliable, simple, and effective way.

It is specific subject matter of this invention a system for controlling and managing docking in a sea area, comprising one or more fields having one or more buoys, characterised in that said buoys are equipped buoys apt to communicate with at least one control station, each one of said equipped buoys comprising first radiocommunication means apt to communicate with second radiocommunication means with which said at least one control station is provided, each one of said equipped buoys further comprising, electronic means apt to transmit an interrogation signal for carrying out a passive radio frequency communication with at least one transmitter-responder or transponder, in such a way that said at least one transponder, when interrogated, talks with the electronic means providing at least one identification code, the electronic means transmitting, through the first radiocommunication means, said at least one identification code to said at least one control station.

In particular, in such embodiment control and management of

docking may be carried out at a local control station, for example provided with means for memorising and storing identification codes authorised to dock in a corresponding sea area having limited extension.

Instead, in the case when there are more docking zones, possibly even spread over more than one sea area, in which it is necessary to control and manage docking in a centralised and/or co-ordinated way, it is advantageous to have an operative centre receiving data and information coming from local control stations corresponding to the various docking zones to be controlled and managed.

In such cases, preferably according to the invention the system comprises an operative centre, said at least one control station of each buoy field comprising further communication means apt to communicate with the operative centre, said at least one control station being apt to send to this information related to the corresponding buoy field.

Always according to the invention, the electronic means may comprise an antenna housed in a structure of the equipped buoy, said at least one transponder having a housing having a shape apt to spatially arrange itself with respect to said structure of the antenna in such a way to achieve electromagnetic visibility conditions with the antenna itself.

Preferably according to the invention, the structure housing the antenna and the housing of the transponder have the shape of two corresponding rings.

Still according to the invention, the ring structure housing the antenna may be apt to receive a passing rope and may be provided with

means detecting the presence of a rope, following the detection of the presence of a rope the electronic means transmitting said interrogation signal.

Furthermore according to the invention, each one of said equipped buoys may comprise a float, to which the structure housing the antenna is coupled, the interior of the float and of the structure housing the antenna being watertight, an autonomous electric power supply being housed within the float, which supply comprises at least one solar panel, housed in correspondence with at least one transparent portion of the float, connected to a power supply storage battery.

Always according to the invention, the float may be in plastic reinforced by fibber glass and/or polycarbonate.

Still according to the invention, the first radiocommunication means may be apt to communicate with the second radiocommunication means according to the Wifi communication standard.

Furthermore according to the invention, said at least one control station may be housed jn a mimetic structure, comprising at least one solar panel connected to a power supply storage battery.

Preferably according to the invention, the mimetic structure of said at least one control station is a watertight container in rock shape made of fibber glass and/or polycarbonate.

Always according to the invention, said at least one control station may comprise at least one camera for video taking the corresponding buoy field.

Still according to the invention, said at least one control station may be apt to send to the operative centre, in the embodiments where this is present, one or more images taken by said at least one camera.

Preferably according to the invention, said at least one transponder may be contained within a watertight shock-resistant floating plastic material moulded container.

Furthermore according to the invention, said at least one transponder may memorise said at least one identification code in encrypted form.

Always according to the invention, in the embodiments where the operative centre is present, said further communication means of said at least one control station may comprise at least one device of telephonic communication, via cable or GPRS, and/or at least one communication device through radio link for connecting to the operative centre.

Still according to the invention, the communication between said at least one control station and the operative centre may occur through protected Internet connection.

Furthermore according to the invention, the operative centre may comprise further communication means through cellular telephony via SMS (Short Message Service) messages. Similarly, in the embodiments where the operative centre is not present, said at least one control station may comprise further communication means through cellular telephony via SMS messages.

It is still specific subject matter of this invention an equipped buoy

characterised in that it comprises first radiocommunication means apt to communicate with second radiocommunication means with which at least one control station is provided, in that it also comprises electronic means apt to transmit an interrogation signal for carrying out a passive radio frequency communication with at least one transponder, in such a way that said at least one transponder, when interrogated, talks with the electronic means providing at least one identification code, the electronic means transmitting, through the first radiocommunication means, said at least one identification code to said at least one control station, the equipped buoy being further characterised in that it is usable in a system for controlling and managing docking in a sea area as previously described.

It is further specific subject matter of this invention a control station comprising second radiocorrimunication means apt to communicate with first radiocommunication means with which at least one equipped buoy is provided, the control station being characterised in that it is usable in a system for controlling and managing docking in a sea area as previously described.

It is still specific subject matter of this invention a transmitter- responder or transponder apt, when interrogated, to talk with electronic means, in such a way to provide at least one identification code, the transponder being characterised in that it is usable in a system for controlling and managing docking in a sea area as previously described.

The present invention will be now described, by way of illustration

and not by way of limitation, according to its preferred embodiments, by particularly referring to the Figures of the enclosed drawings, in which: Figure 1 schematically shows a portion of a preferred embodiment of the system according to the invention; Figure 2 shows a schematic elevation view of an equipped buoy employed in the system of Figure 1; Figure 3 schematically shows a detail of the configuration of interaction between the transmitter-responder device, or transponder, associated to a boat, and the equipped buoy of Figure 2; and Figure 4 schematically shows the local control station employed in the system of Figure 1.

In the following of the description same references will be used to indicate alike elements in the Figures.

The system developed by the inventors is an effective technical solution which is capable to reconcile both the needs of the sea parks, which have to protect the environment and obtain economic compensations from the visits of the pleasure craft users, and the needs of these, which wish to enjoy the sea environment having real services in exchange for the payment of an admission fee.

In particular, the system according to the invention comprises the creation of appropriate buoy fields enabling the controlled docking of boats with no need of anchoring in specific zones of a sea park. Such buoy fields, together with a prohibition of anchoring, assure the protection of the sea bottom, the possibility to issue a limited number of permission

of staying at a park, determined by the number of available buoys, the economic gain for the management of the park, and the satisfaction of the pleasure craft users.

The system according to the invention is an automated system for monitoring and managing the buoys, so as to assure a total control of the buoy fields by the administrative office of a park, the collection of the admission fee and the repression of not authorised exploitations of services.

With reference to Figure 1, the preferred embodiment of the system according to the invention comprises a field having one or more equipped buoys 1, apt to communicate with a local control station 2, which in turn communicates with an operative centre 3. In particular, the local control station 2 may manage any number of buoys 1 distributed within the range of hundreds of meters, while the operative centre 3 may manage any number of local control stations 2.

As shown in Figure 2, an equipped buoy 1 employed in the preferred embodiment of. the system according to the invention comprises a float 4, preferably made of plastic reinforced by fibber glass and/or polycarbonate, inside which it is housed an electronic unit 5 connected to an antenna 6, preferably installed inside a ring placed on the top of the float 4. Through the antenna 6, the electronic unit 5, preferably provided with a microprocessor, continuously transmits an interrogation signal within the surrounding environment and it is apt to carry out a passive radio frequency communication with a transmitter-responder, or

transponder, having no power supply.

The transponder, schematically shown in Figure 3 with reference numeral 7, receive the energy necessary for its own operation directly from the antenna 6 and talks with the electronic unit 5 giving its own identification code. In other words, the electronic unit 5 is apt to carry out the recognition of transponders 7 and, consequently, to detect the mooring of a boat. The system according to the invention provides for giving to each pleasure craft user, who requests it, a corresponding transponder 7 programmed with boat and/or pleasure craft user identification data; these data are further memorised in the operative centre 3, where they may be associated to other data concerning, for instance, the type of service requested by the pleasure craft user to which the transponder 7 corresponds. The transponder 7 of the preferred embodiment of the system according to the invention is contained within a watertight shock-resistant floating plastic material moulded container which incorporates and protects it; its memory uniquely contains an encrypted code corresponding to its serial number, to which the data related to the user recorded and associated to the transponder itself are associated in the memory of the operative centre. The transponder 7 has a ring shape corresponding to the one of the antenna 6 of the equipped buoy 1, so that, once the mooring rope 13 is passed into the two corresponding rings, the transponder 7 is in electromagnetic visibility conditions with the antenna 6, preferably with the two corresponding rings in contact with each other. Preferably, the ring of the antenna 6 further

includes detecting means, for example infrared photodiode and/or phototransistor devices, apt to detect the passage of a rope into the ring itself.

The association between the transponder 7 and the corresponding pleasure craft user (or the boat) enables, at the moment of docking, to verify the compliance with the administrative requirements, controlling the related credit, memorised in the operative centre. In particular, the transponders 7 are produced in large quantity and given to the users, together with an instruction sheet, after payment of a fee for the requested service, such as for instance the permission of staying at the park for a determined period, and a deposit fee, preferably equal to twice its cost, which is given back when the transponder 7 is returned; the user may also definitively keep it, by remotely activating the account when he intends to exploit the service.

Still with reference to Figure 2, the equipped buoy 1 still comprises a radio communication device 8, provided with a corresponding antenna 9, apt to grant, the communication between buoy 1 and local control station 2. Preferably, the radio communications between equipped buoy 1 and local control station 2 are based on the Wifi standard. The equipped buoy 1 is further provided with an autonomous power supply internal to the float 4, comprising a solar panel 10 and a storage battery 11. In particular, the solar panel 10 is advantageously placed in correspondence with a transparent portion of the float 4, preferably a window, which allows the external light to illuminate the sensitive area of

the solar panel 10.

All the electronic components of the equipped buoy 1 are sealed within the float 4, which is watertight, so as not to suffer damages from the exposition to the brackish atmosphere.

The float 4 is kept in position through a sinker, not shown, resting on the bottom, to which it is hooked through a chain, not shown, coupled to an anchoring ring 12 placed at the bottom of the float 4.

With reference to Figure 4, it may be observed that the local control station 2 comprises a radiocommunication unit 14 apt to communicate with the equipped buoys 1 of the field that it controls. The unit 14, which is preferably a Wifi Access Point, is connected to a device 15 of outward, preferably telephonic, communication, via cable or GPRS, and/or (for example in the case when GPRS signal lacks) to a radio link for connecting to the operative centre 3.

The local station 2 is also provided with a camera 16 for video taking the buoy field, the image of which is displayed on the monitors of the operative centre 3ri completed with information provided by the equipped buoys 1.

The local station 2 is preferably contained in a protective mimetic structure, for instance made of a watertight container in rock shape preferably made of fibber glass and/or polycarbonate, within which the electronic components and the power supply are housed, comprising at least one solar panel 17 and a storage battery 18. A control electronic unit 19 controls the operation of the local station 2.

The local station 2 is the link between the equipped buoys 1, with which it forms a wireless local area network or WLAN, and the operative centre 3, to which it transfers the data collected by the equipped buoys 1 and the images taken by the camera 16 aiming at the buoy field, in order to prove mooring infractions and/or to give evidences of illegal behaviours, such as forbidden anchoring or fishing. In particular, the information from the local control stations 2 reach the operative centre 3 preferably through Internet link with protected connection.

The operative centre 3 has a primary role in the system according to the invention. In fact, it is provided with means apt to program the transponders 7 given to the pleasure craft users. Moreover, in the operative centre 3 the state of the equipped buoys 1 of all the buoy fields spread over the park is controlled, for which it is provided a corresponding local control station 2. In fact, as already mentioned, the buoys 1 are capable to detect the presence of the transponders 7 and mooring abuse, transmitting data to the corresponding local control station 2. This one provides the information, with the image of the buoy field taken by the camera 16 and transmits all to the operative centre 3. In particular, the image of the buoy field is displayed on monitors with which the operative centre 3 is provided, together with windows containing the information coming from the several equipped buoys 1 of the corresponding field, so as to give evidences of possible mooring abuses, even when the buoy device should be eluded, and to take punishing actions.

Preferably, the system according to the invention enables the

extension of services which may be exploited by a user through SMS (Short Message Service) messages coming from a cellular telephone associated to the corresponding transponder 7 ; the system may further enable the warning of expiration of the pre-paid time, still through a SMS message sent to the same cellular telephone appropriately in advance.

Such service will result particularly welcome to the pleasure craft users who would wish to stay more than they estimated, without leaving the mooring in order to get to the operative centre 3 for renewing the permission of staying.

Advantageously, in the operative centre 3 there are operators capable to interpret data and images, to have relationships with the users for distributing the transponders 7, for collecting the corresponding fees, and for solving management problems. In particular, the organisation may be represented by a classic configuration with Front Office and Back Office.

At the Front Office users are received, transponders 7 are programmed and handed, telephone calls and messages, for requested service extension are received, possible complaints are processed.

At the Back Office the information system is managed, electrical and mechanical maintenance of the components of the system is made, possible illegal behaviours are controlled, information are transmitted to authorities.

The operative centre 3 may take advantage of entering into agreements with cellular telephony companies, for making possible the

recharge of the user accounts through SMS or e-mail.

The preferred embodiments have been above described and some modifications of this invention have been suggested, but it should be understood that those skilled in the art can make other variations and changes, without so departing from the related scope of protection, as defined by the following claims.