Volvo Penta has previewed the first system for Assisted Docking, which fully integrates with the onboard electronics and commands. The stage has been the (virtual) 2021 Consumer Electronics Show.
Its another step towards the full helm-to-prop integration, and according to their claim Easy Boating, Volvo Penta has just introduced another big news. It’s called Volvo Penta Assisted Docking and it could make boaters happy, as they can better control when docking a boat by automating their intentions, compensating for dynamic variables such as wind and current, and helping the vessel stay on its intended course. The technology is on display at Volvo Penta’s virtual booth at CES from 11-14 January 2021.
Assisted Docking does what you ask it, but better
Adverse weather, crowded marinas, strong winds, and rough currents: maneuvering and docking to reach our berth can be nerve wrecking, embarrassing, expensive, even harmful. Volvo Penta has been studying the issue for some years now, and in their process of developing a solution here’s the new joystick-docking called, not accidentally, Assisted Docking.
The system integrates a software layer developed in house with the company’s GPS-based Dynamic Positioning System and IPS, for a complete package including human-machine interface at the helm, electronics via the engine, propulsion systems and sensors, and navigation processing power.
In substance, Assisted Docking consists of the joystick that controls the steering input and the GPS-based Dynamic Positioning System antenna to know the exact position and heading. The captain maneuvers the vessel with the joystick – thereby informing the system which direction it should head in and at what speed. If you move the joystick forward, the system lays out a path straight forward from the boat and the boat starts to follow a straight line with the indicated speed.
The boat docking system also takes into account certain external forces like wind and current and the EVC system – upgraded with Volvo software – compensates to ensure the boat follows the captain’s intentions. It does this by calculating drive angles and thrust, then acts on the drift and moves the boat back to its intended course. The boat docking system keeps this course by constantly fine-tuning the steering angles and thrust.
The Assisted Docking system will be available in spring 2021 for installation on new boat models, as an option for Volvo Penta IPS-equipped motor yachts sized 35ft to 120ft long, and as a retrofit – which will require a software upgrade and new antenna – for existing Volvo Penta IPS-powered boats. The Assisted Docking system will be sold directly to Original Equipment Manufacturers.
Keep in mind: this is not and automated docking system, although Volvo has previewed one some time ago (we wrote about it on Boatmaginternational pages). The captain is still needed at the helm, but Volvo Penta Assisted Docking system is constantly compensating for engine input and engine / drive output to help ensure the boat moves as they intend.
It is human-machine interaction at its best, but it’s still early to play “The Man Machine” album by Kraftwerk.