IBEX 365 News
2021 IBEX Innovation Award Interview with Volvo Penta
News Date: August 8, 2022
Volvo Penta’s Assisted Docking system compensates for external forces (wind and current) and allows the boat operator to maneuver in close quarters with high precision. Combining automation with control, the system brings peace-of-mind to seasoned boaters as well as to beginners just learning how to dock.
What problem does this product solve?
Volvo Penta’s Assisted Docking technology gives the captain better control when docking or keeping station by automating intentions, compensating for dynamic variables such as wind and current, and helping the vessel to stay on its intended course. It takes the stress out of docking and allows for a more enjoyable boating experience even on windy days and in congested areas.
How did you become aware of this problem?
“We at Volvo Penta listened to our customers and aimed at solving the age-old problem of docking,” says Jens Bering of Volvo Penta. “Unlike a car, a boat never stands still without some maneuvering required. Moving in a straight line into a narrow berth in foul weather can be difficult if not dangerous, but we make boating easier.”
Who is the target market for this product?
Both new and experienced marine leisure customers will benefit from Assisted Docking which allows the captain to manage the elements.
What is noteworthy about the technology used?
Assisted Docking integrates a software layer developed in-house with the company’s GPS-based Dynamic Positioning System (DPS) and Volvo’s proprietary IPS integrated helm-to-prop propulsion system. The complete package includes Garmin’s Glass Cockpit system at the helm, engine and sensor information, and advanced processing power. All maneuvers are controlled by the joystick and the information on display maximizes the captain’s situational awareness.
How is it different from any other solution on the market?
This is the industry’s first fully integrated docking system. It’s a hybrid between automated and manual docking. With this technology, Volvo Penta offers unrivaled precision and control using the IPS system in a completely new way.
Assisted Docking relies on a DPS antenna for a precise position and heading. The driver provides input regarding speed and direction with the joystick. As soon as the joystick is released, the boat comes to a stop and stands still allowing the driver time to assess the situation and to make adjustments. This is similar to current DPS functionality, but with a new level of smoothness.
For small adjustments of position or heading, there is a micro re-positioning feature. Tapping the joystick moves the boat in the desired direction – about 30 centimeters (1 foot) per tap. Tap up to three times to move the boat 1 meter (3 feet). To stop, tap the joystick the other way. For changes in heading, twist 1-3 times for about 3 degrees change per twist. The Side Push function helps when docking side-to. It’s activated by pressing a button and it offers an adjustable force against the dock.
What obstacles did you encounter in the R&D process?
“We worked on this system over several years, fine-tuning the algorithm and ensuring there was enough supplemental propulsion power to hold the vessel’s heading as well as its position,” adds Bering. “It’s not just accuracy of the movements but also the speed of the transmission of the information that keeps the operator in command and that’s no small feat.”
What customizations are available to personalize this product?
When coupled with the Garmin’s Surround View camera system, Assisted Docking makes maneuvering easier and more car-like with 360-degree views.
How has the product been received?
“It has been received extremely well by builders, dealers and customers,” adds Bering. “Some customers are even holding off on purchasing a boat until they’re able to spec Assisted Docking.”
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Phase two is under way for vessels with EVC and enough computing power to enable offering Assisted Docking as a retrofit for pre-owned boats with IPS systems.
For more information about the 2021 IBEX Innovation Award winners, click here.