It still requires human supervision, but can undertake maneuvers no human would try.
There are plenty of things that can go wrong when you dock a boat, and if they do, the consequences can be expensive. It's a problem that Volvo Penta claims to have solved after building a "self-docking yacht" that can park itself in spaces no sailor would contemplate. The Volvo subsidiary, which makes engine and maritime gear, is designed to navigate a vessel while taking into account the environmental conditions.
Penta president Björn Ingemanson says that the system, which can make constant adjustments against the wind and tide, "can make the sea appear to stand still." Despite this, the company says that the self docking system isn't designed to be run without a human overseeing the process.
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, which have an overall length of 72.6 feet. As you can see in the video, the captain simply sets the system and then watches as the vessel backs itself into the fairly tight space.
Of course this isn't the first system that's been designed to automate the process of safely bringing a boat into dock. Italian yachting company Astra Yacht has shown off a more limited Boat Parking Assistance system that can help boats navigate into tight spaces. It's clear, however, that work is underway to make trips to the sea a little easier and safer for everyone involved.
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