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Volvo Penta launches industry’s first fully integrated Assisted Docking System

Volvo Penta announced the commercial availability of the industry’s first fully integrated Assisted Docking system. The Assisted Docking system gives the captain better control when docking a boat by automating his or her intentions, compensating for some dynamic variables, such as wind and current, and helping the vessel stay on its intended course.

The technology will be on display at Volvo Penta’s virtual booth at CES from 11-14 January 2021.

The Assisted Docking system integrates a software layer developed in house with the company’s GPS-based Dynamic Positioning System and proprietary Inboard Performance Systems (IPS) for a complete package including HMI (human-machine interface) at the helm, electronics via the engine, propulsion systems and sensors, and advanced navigation processing power for a much easier boating experience, even in rough conditions.

The Assisted Docking system 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 (i.e. wind, current) and the EVC system—upgraded with in-house developed 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 main features of the boat docking system are: moving in straight lines without manual compensation; standing still; slow maneuvering functionality; rotating around a fixed point; micro re-positioning and alignment; and side push for sideways docking.

It is a technical feat to give the driver an easier boating experience with more precise steering and control. The captain is still needed at the helm, but Volvo Penta’s Assisted Docking system is constantly compensating for engine input and engine and drive output to help ensure the boat moves as he or she intends.

Assisted Docking is a hybrid between automated docking and manual docking. Even though, in some ways, it would have been easier to implement full automation, the beauty of this system is that it gives the captain enhanced control. With our team of experts—from software developers to test drivers—we have made it behave intuitively in all situations, so that anyone can feel like a seasoned captain.

—Ida Sparrefors, Director of Autonomous Solutions and New Business Models at Volvo Penta

The Assisted Docking system will be available in spring 2021 for installation on new boat models, as an upgradeable option for Volvo Penta IPS-equipped motor yachts sized 35ft to 120ft long, and as a retrofi—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.

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