Last month, Volvo Penta announced an Assisted Docking system for its IPS pod drives. This new feature integrates with Volvo’s joystick technology and adds automated functionality that compensates for such conditions as tide, wind and current when approaching a dock.
Volvo Penta displayed the system at January’s virtual Consumer Electronics Show.
The Assisted Docking system uses software developed with the company’s GPS-based Dynamic Positioning System to work with the IPS joystick. The package includes a “human-machine interface,” or HMI, at the helm, electronics via the engine, propulsion, sensors and navigation processing power for a smoother docking experience.
The system makes it easier to move the boat in a straight line or maneuver in close quarters using the joystick thanks mostly to the new software, which calculates how conditions impact drive angles and returns the boat to its intended course.
Assisted Docking keeps a boat on course by constantly fine-tuning the steering and rpm. The system won’t dock the boat autonomously, but when it’s blowing 20-plus or the current is moving away from the dock, it will compensate for those conditions.
“When we launched our joystick technology in 2006, the maneuvering and control functionality it brought to leisure boating shook up the marine industry,” Volvo Penta electronics project manager Anders Thorin says. “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. Volvo Penta says the main features include moving in straight lines without manual compensation, standing still, increased slow maneuvering functionality, rotating around a fixed point, micro repositioning and alignment, and side push.
“Assisted Docking is a hybrid between automated docking and manual docking,” says Ida Sparrefors, Volvo Penta director of autonomous solutions and new business models. “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.”
Volvo Penta’s Assisted Docking will be available in the spring for installation on new boats, as an upgradeable option for Volvo Penta IPS-equipped boats to 120 feet, and as a retrofit for IPS boats, which will require a software upgrade and new antenna.
This article was originally published in the February 2021 issue.