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Volvo Penta unveils its new self-docking system for yachts

GOTHENBURG, Sweden (LOG NEWS SERVICE) — We have self-parking cars, so why not self-docking boats?

During the Gothenburg, Sweden, stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race in June Volvo Penta unveiling its self-docking system.

In a live demonstration, a 68-foot yacht fitted with the technology skillfully maneuvered itself into the tightest of spaces between two of the Volvo Ocean Race 65 racing yachts.

The unveiling of the pioneering self-docking yacht technology is the latest in their ongoing “Easy Boating” philosophy to make boating simple, enjoyable and accessible to more people a Volvo Penta spokesman said.

At its heart is the joystick-controlled Volvo Penta Inboard Performance System, a complete and integrated propulsion system – from the helm station, via the engine, all the way to the propellers.

“Docking is one of the most challenging boat handling maneuvers – getting it wrong can be embarrassing, expensive and precarious,” Björn Ingemanson, president of Volvo Penta, said. “Our IPS system has already taken great strides in making docking easier, and this new self-docking feature takes that process one important stage further. 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.”

Automating the docking process involves three distinct phases. First, as the boat nears its berth, the system recognizes that it has entered a “catch zone” and sends out a signal to the captain that it is ready to dock. Once the captain has activated the self-docking function, the boat is then (aided by GPS), automatically moved into a ‘docking ready’ position. Once the captain has initiated the final stage, the system uses a combination of GPS and sensors, both those fitted onboard and additional sensors fitted to the destination dock to automatically move the boat into a safe berth.

Another feature of the system is that it will be available not only for the latest IPS equipped boats – a retrofit version is also planned, which would make an attractive upgrade to thousands of boat owners.

Volvo Penta said safety is a primary factor in the development of the system. Its docking system, accordingly, is not designed to be fully autonomous. While the system will feature surround sensors that provide anti-collision alert and avoidance, the captain needs to remain at the helm during the docking.

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