Interfacing ship systems

Communication with ship systems and sensors is time-consuming and difficult. It requires knowledge about the physical locations, protocol, settings and data format. Ratatosk facilitates simple reuse and development of vessel-independent ship applications by providing onboard data spaces .

What is it?

Ratatosk is a set of applications and libraries for real-time data exchange. It simplifies the interfacing of ship systems for purposes such as logging, monitoring and control. Ratatosk includes an API which provides a bridge between ship systems and your own software, as well as a set of executables with ready-made functionalities.


Ratatosk creates a data space for real-time communication and data exchange. Communication is based on publish/subscribe over the local network, based solely on the name of the data, eliminating the need to know ship-specific information (such as IP addresses, ports, protocols, baud rate, etc.). This makes it possible to develop applications that interact with the ship's systems, without adapting to specific ships. This is similar to how you can install an app on a smartphone without knowing details about e.g. its accelerometer.


Ratatosk facilitates vessel-agnostic higher-order functionality.
  • Makes sensor data easily available.
  • Is a foundation for applications which interface ship systems without adaptation to individual ships.
  • Out-of-the-box support for distributed applications.
  • Builds on Data Distribution Service
    • Can communicate with other DDS impementations
    • Built on open and proven standards.
    • Uses publish-subscribe communication
    • Gives easy handling of complex data structures.

Previous use cases

Ratatosk has been developed for research purposes by the independent research organisation SINTEF Ocean, but is now released for use by other parties. The following is a list of some of the research projects where Ratatosk has been used and developed.
Improved vessel design and operation
Methods and tools for improving the design and operation of fishing vessels.
Pursense decision support
Onboard decision support system based on long term data acquisition.
Electronic tagging of purse seines
Real time monitoring of purse seine hauling, based on electronic tags.
Smartfish H2020
Decision support for fishers and fisheries managers.
Sustainable tuna fisheries through advanced earth observation technologies
Catch control in purse seine
Decision support for the captain before gear deployment.


Ratatosk is in the process of being made available for the public. This work will consist of four phases, corresponding to the four different Ratatosk resources described below.


The Ratatosk executables enables its users to take advantage of ready made functionality, typically for purposes such as interfacing ship sensors and systems and logging of acquired data to file.

Shared libraries

The Ratatosk shared libraries offer a simple way to use limited DDS functionality in your own software to exchange data. One use case could be to share data between a hardware interfacing application, a state estimator and a real-time plotting application over a LAN.

Expected available: August 2023


The Ratatosk API can be used for adding Ratatosk functionality to your own software or to build tailor made Ratatosk components. This can be used for example to create applications for onboard decision support.

Expected available: December 2023

Source code

The Ratatosk source code will be made available both as an assurance for the Ratatosk users, simplify development and to facilitate extending it as desired.

Expected available: August 2024