Volvo Announces Assisted Docking Technology
Today, Volvo Penta announced an Assisted Docking system for its Inboard Performance Systems (IPS). This new feature integrates with Volvo’s joystick technology and adds more functionality that compensates for marine conditions such as tide, wind or current when easing up to the dock.
The Assisted Docking system uses software developed with the company’s GPS-based Dynamic Positioning System to work with the IPS joystick control. The package includes a “human-machine interface” or HMI at the helm, electronics via the engine, propulsion, sensors and navigation processing power for a much smoother docking experience, even in rough or windy conditions.
With the upgrade to Assisted Docking it will be easier to move the boat in a straight line or maneuver in tight quarters using the joystick thanks mostly to this new software that calculates how conditions impact drive angles and moves the boat back to its intended course. The system keeps its course by constantly fine-tuning the steering and RPMs. The system won’t dock the boat for you, but when it’s blowing 20-plus or the current is pulling you away from the dock, it will compensate for those conditions, making it easier to use the joystick and provide a more precise experience.
“When we launched our joystick technology in 2006, the maneuvering and control functionality it brought to leisure boating shook up the marine industry,” says Anders Thorin, Product Manager Electronics at Volvo Penta. “Delivering game-changing innovation is in our DNA.”
The Assisted Docking package consists of the joystick that controls the steering input and the GPS-based Dynamic Positioning System antenna to know the boat’s exact position and heading. According to Volvo, the main features include moving in straight lines without manual compensation, standing still, increased slow maneuvering functionality, rotating around a fixed point, micro re-positioning and alignment, and side push for sideways docking.
“Assisted Docking is a hybrid between automated docking and manual docking,” says Ida Sparrefors, Director of Autonomous Solutions and New Business Models at Volvo Penta. “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.”
The Assisted Docking system will be available in spring 2021 for installation on new boats, as an upgradeable option for Volvo Penta IPS-equipped vessels up to 120 feet and as a retrofit for IPS-powered boats, which will require a software upgrade and new antenna.