The innovations regarding assisted mooring, among all the technologies that come to the aid of yachtsmen, are the fastest growing. At the moment, in various forms, more or less evolved and automated, there are about ten systems offered by as many manufacturers to solve the problem of docking at the quay.
Engine manufacturers, both inboard and outboard, as well as those involved in on-board software and automation and systems, work on it. And the different approach to the problem generates solutions that converge on the same service, but in different ways. Some points in common, beyond the end, however, exist.
Basically all systems have a joystick with which to operate the boat, which must be equipped with two engines and (but not necessarily for all) a bow thruster, the bow thruster (and in this case the engine can also be single). A control unit interprets the signals coming from the helmsman and modifies the angle of the engines, the direction and direction of rotation of the propeller and its speed to execute orders to the centimeter.
With the command well known to video game enthusiasts, you can steer the boat very precisely, also managing to move it sideways so as to moor it limiting the difficulties generated by wind, waves and currents, the little space available to maneuver or the little practice of those at the helm. Very useful solution therefore also for charter boats, which are often entrusted to yachtsmen who are not necessarily experts in mooring, even if equipped with a nautical license.
In view of the necessary intervention of a software that manages the responses of the engines based on the inputs of the joystick, it was also possible to integrate other functions that make the boat even more docile, such as the ability to maintain a constant position through virtual anchor (in practice you keep the Gps ship point through continuous adjustments), the bow and course. Obviously each manufacturer modulates how many and which functions they offer in their systems.
To play on this table are Evinrude, Mercury Marine, Yamaha for outboard, although the second offers systems for all types of propulsion. Inboard solutions are also available from ZF and Seastar with Optimus 360. In addition, Xenta and Yacht Controller also come into play. The latter two have an advantage not to be underestimated. Since the joystick is a radio control, or the radio control is still offered in the steering ecosystem, this control station can be used from any point on the boat and not only from the steering console.
Further more advanced systems like the one developed by Volvo Penta which makes the mooring automatic, but is still in experimental phase and has the limit to work only in its own berth, life the need for sensors on the dock. Or the middle way proposed by Raymarine with the DockSense. Use Flir thermal imaging cameras and other sensors to automatically adjust the operation of the engines so they don’t approach beyond a set distance from the dock or any other obstacle. Basically, even if you try as long as the system is plugged in, you can’t get anywhere. Similar, but without direct intervention on the engines is Ecab of Astra Yacht, an on-board audiovisual aid system at berth. It highlights obstacles, distance from them, eventual distance or approach, impact times etc using video cameras and distance sensors.