Effective technical methods for verifying the authenticity and accuracy of Automatic Identification System (AIS) data, which are important for safe navigation and traffic regulation, are still lacking. In this study, we propose a new method to verify AIS data by using video images taken by an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). An improved ViBe algorithm is used to extract the ship target image from the video images and the ship's spatial position is calculated using a monocular target-positioning algorithm. The positioning results are compared with the position, speed and course data of the same ship in AIS, and the authenticity and accuracy of the AIS data are verified. The results of the experiment conducted in the inland waterways of Huangpu River in Shanghai, China, show that AIS signals can be automatically checked and verified by a UAV in real time and can thus improve the supervision efficiency of maritime departments.