Volvo Unveils Self-Docking Yacht Technology

You’ve been out at sea all day, having a lovely time sunbathing, swimming, and cruising along the waves. The weather starts to go bad so you decide to make your way back home. You follow the Aqua Dock Lights and make it back to the docks. The only issue is, you’ve not got to dock your yacht in bad weather — something you struggle doing even in perfect conditions. Luckily, there’s now a solution for this.

Volvo Penta just built a “self-docking yacht” aiming to tackle one of boating’s most stressful maneuvers – docking. The Volvo subsidiary, which makes engine and maritime gear, is designed to navigate a vessel while taking into account the environmental conditions.

The system was first demonstrated during the Swedish leg of the Volvo Ocean Race in Gothenburg where the racing vessels were moored. Volvo Penta’s boat approached the berth between two Volvo Ocean 65 yachts manned by experts, which have an overall length of 72.6 feet.

Prototypes of Volvo Penta’s self-docking technology are currently undergoing development trials. The automated docking capability comes due to the onboard electronic vessel control system (EVC), which computes steering and drive calculations in relation to the boat’s actual position and four sensors sited on the intended berth.

“Docking is one of the most challenging boat handling maneuvers – getting it wrong can be embarrassing, expensive, and precarious,” says Bjorn Ingemanson, President of Volvo Penta. “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 on-board 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. If necessary, the docking process can be paused, and the system will hold the boat stationary in the water. Even in changing sea conditions it can make the sea appear to stand still.”

Volvo Penta’s self-docking system hasn’t been designed to be fully autonomous, but will still require the yacht’s captain to be at the helm – ready to take over at the first sign of trouble, though the system can be paused at any time to hold the yacht in position.

An additional future scenario for the self-docking system is that it could be integrated with Volvo Penta’s Easy Connect application.

The app could allow users to check if the nearest marina is equipped with the appropriate self-docking technology – or even perhaps use it to secure a parking space.

It has been reported that the technology is being readied for launch in 2020. The video below shows the live demo at the Port of Gothenburg in Sweden.

Source: Engadget