Remember the first time you had to parallel park a car? Docking a boat isn’t too much different — with the difference being that, chances are, a boat costs a heck of a lot more than your first car. Docking mishaps in a boat can be both embarrassing and very expensive. Could smart technology help make things easier?
Flir Systems, the world’s largest commercial company specializing in the design and production of thermal and other imaging sensors, certainly thinks so. At the recently concluded Dusseldorf Boat Show in Germany, Flir unveiled the Raymarine DockSense assisted docking system. Described by its creators as the marine industry’s first intelligent object recognition and motion-sensing assisted docking solution for recreational boating, DockSense uses machine vision technology to make it easier to bring boats into the dock. In addition to providing 360-degree video coverage of the scenes around a docking vessel, if the boat gets too close to another object during this process, the assistive tech uses corrective steering and throttle commands to avoid collisions.
“DockSense stereo vision cameras continuously monitor the physical environment around the boat, detecting obstacles and hazards like docks, piers, pilings, seawalls and other moored boats,” Jim Hands, marketing director for Raymarine at Flir Systems, told Digital Trends. “This data is used to generate an accurate 3D model of the boat and its surroundings. At the same time, the system also receives positioning from a Raymarine GPS/GNSS sensor, augmented with real-time three-axis vessel motion data from an AHRS (Attitude and Heading Reference System). This allows DockSense to instantly sense which way the boat is moving, and also to negate any set or drift effects caused by wind or current.”
Since the DockSense system is so deeply integrated with a boat’s propulsion system, it will initially be offered on only on new-build boats. Raymarine’s partner, Prestige Yachts, aims to start shipping (no pun intended) DockSense-equipped yachts before the end of 2019. Pricing for the system has yet to be announced, but will vary according to the size of the boat it’s required for, in addition to the integration work required by the boat builder.
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