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June 28, 2018

Volvo Penta Self DockingTake a look as a 68-foot yacht docks itself in between two Volvo Ocean 65 sailing yachts at the Volvo Ocean Race in Gothenburg. Thanks to Volvo Penta's self-docking yacht technology, the yacht docks with ease in a very tight space.

The Gothenburg, Sweden, stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race was the scene for the unveiling of Volvo Penta’s self-docking system. In a live demonstration, a 68 ft. yacht fitted with the technology maneuvered itself into the tightest of spaces between two of the Volvo Ocean Race 65 racing yachts.

This is the latest in Volvo Penta’s ongoing ‘Easy Boating’ philosophy to make boating simple, enjoyable and accessible to more people. At its heart is the joystick-controlled Volvo Penta Inboard Performance System (IPS)*, a complete and integrated propulsion system – from the helm station, via the engine, all the way to the propellers.

 

 

Narrow berths, changing wind and sea conditions and congested marinas will all soon be less of a challenge when docking thanks to the responsiveness of the Volvo Penta IPS system, coupled with sensors and advanced navigation processing power. As well, just as the system helps get the boat into the dock, it can also enable it to securely take off from the dock using automation.

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.

Easy docking

Explains Björn Ingemanson, President of Volvo Penta. “The 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. 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.”

How it works

 

 




Automating the docking process involves three distinct phases. Firstly, 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.

Volvo Penta Docking Sensor Sensors on the berth help guide the yacht safely into its docking position.

The initial focus for Volvo Penta’s self-docking system will be individuals who can install the system on their own private docks. Longer term, it is believed that the technology will be of considerable interest to harbors and marinas, allowing IPS-equipped boats fitted with the system to dock in complete safety and accuracy.

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

Safety is a primary factor in the ongoing development of the feature and, as with similar ‘self-parking’ technology in the automotive world, Volvo Penta’s docking system is not designed to be fully autonomous. While the system will also feature surround sensors that provide anti-collision alert and avoidance, the captain needs to remain at the helm during the docking process, ready to intervene if necessary.