Autonomous driving arrives for recreational sailors

New system allows you to hand over control to a computer at any time.

Guiding your boat from one port to another will soon be a lot safer thanks to a new autonomous system for recreational boaters.

The University of Buffalo has developed a pre-emptive marine autopilot system especially for small and medium recreational boat owners that automatically takes over the driving when a threat is identified and steers the vessel safely to its final destination.

It works by using a complex system of sensors and cameras to monitor weather conditions and obstacles. This is set against real-time data like nautical charts and details on the boat itself. When all this is collated it provides a full-proof system that makes the whole boating experience all the safer.

In practice, when the system identifies a threat it automatically changes course and if the captain doesn’t agree then he or she can over-ride the computer and wrest back control. Its capabilities don’t end there either.

The captain can also choose to connect to the system wirelessly via a smartphone or laptop, key in the destination and sit back whilst it guides the boat from port to port in the safest and most efficient way possible.

Work on a system of this ilk has been long overdue. In the US alone there were over 4,000 accidents and 610 deaths from recreational boating in 2014 and the reasons for this range from operator inattention and inexperience to improper lookout, excessive speed and alcohol consumption.

We aren’t likely to see it in action that soon due to the plethora of tests it needs to go through yet nervous boaters will be a happy bunch to know that it is in fact on the way.

Via: Gizmag