Autopilot

A luxury yacht. / Photo by: Paul Brennan via Public Domain Pictures

 

Autonomous technology is commonly used in buses, cars, and drones, but uncommon in boats. So, Volvo decided to add such a system in the upcoming new yacht equipped with a self-docking system.

Volva Penta is a solution service of the company for both industrial and marine applications. The service includes marine support for leisure and commercial settings and will soon include a 68-foot yacht model that can dock itself using a limited autonomous system. The self-docking system allows the marine vessel to maneuver itself even in tight spaces between two Volvo Ocean Race 65 racing yachts.

“Docking is one of the most challenging boat handling maneuvers – getting it wrong can be embarrassing, expensive and precarious,” said Björn Ingemanson, president of Volvo Penta.

The IPS system used by the new boat enhances the performance of its self-docking feature, while the onboard computers and sensors react according to the changes in the wind and sea conditions, informing the helmsman of necessary details for safe marine travel. The docking system of the yacht has a pausing feature to hold the vehicle in its place. However, the self-docking system is not 100 percent autonomous and still requires human supervision. The helmsman needs to oversee the docking process in case something goes wrong, even though it is equipped with anti-collision sensors. The company plans to launch the yacht model by 2020.

“Its sensors and onboard computers react in milliseconds to changing wind and sea conditions, constantly making micro adjustments in power and steering angle of the IPS drive to keep the boat on its intended course into a safe berth,” added Ingemanson.

The Volvo Group started exploring the field of automation for quite some time. In 2016, the group showed the Volvo FMX, a self-driving truck, while in 2017, the group demonstrated a concept truck that can autonomously travel from one hub to another in Beijing, China.

Volvo Penta is not the first company that introduced a self-docking system in a marine vehicle. An Italian company called Astra Yacht already showed the Boat Parking Assistance System that also enables boats to park in tight spaces.