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Volvo Penta launches industry’s first fully-integrated yacht docking system

Ownership Technology
Written by
Parisa Hashempour

The just-launched Volvo Penta system features new innovations to allow yacht captains a new level of control when docking. 

The system works by automating the captain’s intentions, compensates for some dynamic variables such as wind and current, and helps the vessel stay on its intended course. Docking can be one of the most stressful and challenging aspects of boating even for experienced captains. The consequences of getting it wrong can be expensive and dangerous if having to withstand crowded marinas, strong winds and rough currents.Volvo Penta Assisted Docking SystemHow does Volvo Penta’s docking system work?

The Assisted Docking system integrates a software layer developed in house with the company’s GPS-based Dynamic Positioning System and proprietary Inboard Performance Systems (IPS) for a complete package including HMI (human-machine interface) at the helm, electronics via the engine, propulsion systems and sensors, and advanced navigation processing power for a much easier boating experience, even in rough conditions. 

Anders Thorin, Product Manager Electronics at Volvo Penta explains:  “From our Electronic Vessel Control (EVC) system, which connects and manages the internal communications between the engine and driveline, joystick and display screen, so the driver can control everything from the joystick – to our Dynamic Positioning System (DPS), which automatically maintains a boat’s heading and position, even in rough conditions – to today with the release of the Assisted Docking system, we take the next step in easy boating and continue our long-held ambition to make docking a boat easier for a more enjoyable boating experience.


How do you dock a boat with Volvo Penta’s assisted docking system?

The assisted docking system consists of the joystick that controls the steering input and the GPS-based dynamic positioning system antenna to know the exact position and heading. The captain manoeuvres the vessel with the joystick, which in turn informs the system which direction it should head in and at what speed. If you move the joystick forward, the system lays out a path straight forward from the boat and the boat starts to follow a straight line at the indicated speed. The boat docking system also takes into account certain external forces like wind and current. Plus, the EVC system, which is upgraded with in-house developed software, compensates to ensure the boat follows the captain’s intentions. It does this by calculating drive angles and thrust, then acts on the drift and moves the boat back to its intended course. The boat docking system keeps this course by constantly fine-tuning the steering angles and thrust.Volvo Penta Assisted Docking SystemWhat are the features of the Volvo Penta docking system?

The main features of the boat docking system are: moving in straight lines without manual compensation, standing still, slow manoeuvring 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 boat models, as an upgradeable option for Volvo Penta IPS-equipped motor yachts sized from 10.7 metres to 36.6 metres long, and as a retrofit, which will require a software upgrade and new antenna, for existing Volvo Penta IPS-powered boats. The system will be sold directly to original equipment manufacturers.

 Learn more about Volvo Penta's innovative superyacht propulsion line here:  

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