Autopilots - about to get more 'intelligent'

Autopilots are invaluable for the cruising sailor - for serious, and not so serious, reasons
.. .
For the typical short-handed cruising sailor, the autopilot is often the third crew member, enabling the short-handed crew to be more places at once when necessary, relieving weariness and allowing more sleep for the off-watch crew member.

Autopilots have their strengths and weaknesses, so it's good news that the technology which is coming soon will be making them more flexible and easier to use.


Raymarine has introduced some innovative breakthroughs in autopilot intelligence which will be good news for us all. As the company which introduced the autohelm in the first place, Raymarine tell us that their new 'Evolution' combines advanced aerospace guidance technology with Raymarine’s marine autopilot expertise to deliver a new level of accurate autopilot control.

Tasked with producing an autopilot that has superior performance compared to anything available on the market, has no need of a set-up compass swing or calibration, and does not need to be adjusted to the boat to which it is fitted, the Raymarine teams now pleased to tell us that they have achieved their goal.

This innovative breakthrough in autopilot intelligence uses Evolution AI™ control algorithms which enable Evolution autopilots to perceive their environment and then instantly calculate and evolve steering commands to maximize performance. The result is precise and confident course keeping, regardless of vessel speed or sea conditions.

Your autopilot is about to get much much smarter
.. .

At the heart of the Evolution autopilot system is the ultra-compact, EV sensor core; a 9-axis heading sensor and full function course computer in one. Around the same size as a typical marine GPS sensor, the EV sensor core can be either bracket-mounted or flush-mounted horizontally, and as it is built to IPX6 and IPX& waterproofing and submersion standards, it can be installed above or below decks as space and practicality dictate.

The EV sensor core comes in two versions; EV-1 for Raymarine drive systems and EV-2 for drive-by-wire systems. EV-1 uses SeaTalkng cabling for a single power and data connection to an Actuator Control Unit (ACU) which provides power and signal only to a Raymarine hydraulic or mechanical autopilot drive system.

EV-2 simply uses a direct DeviceNet connection to a third party drive-by-wire system such as Teleflex Optimus 360, Volvo Penta IPS or ZF Pod Drive. Autopilot control is via the p70 or p70R control head.

Setting-up an Evolution autopilot takes just 30 seconds; select the boat type – large power, small power, or sail; select the drive type – hydraulic, mechanical, or outboard; and choose the performance level – performance, cruise, or leisure, it is as easy as that.

EV Sensor Core benefits:
Precision monitoring of heading, pitch, roll, and yaw allowing the autopilot to evolve instantly as sea conditions and vessel dynamics change.
Flexible installation options. Mount above or below deck.
Simple SeaTalkng connectivity to the control head and ACU.
Solid state sensor technology delivers dynamic accuracy to within 2 degrees in all conditions.
Auto-compensation for on board magnetic fields and reliable heading accuracy in northern and southern extremes.
Fast and reliable heading data for MARPA, radar overlay, and heading modes on Raymarine multifunction displays.

Evolution autopilot benefits:
On Track Performance
Smoother, more progressive turn-in.
Assured performance for all hull types, at all speeds, with no calibration.
Automatic optimal boat response in all sea states and weather conditions
Selectable modes emphasize comfort, economy, or accurate
Superior Technology
Solid state technology with 9-axis stabilization.
Dynamic accuracy to within 2 degrees in all conditions.
Automatic compensation for magnetic fields.
Enhanced accuracy in extreme north and south latitudes.

The bad news - there's always bad news somewhere - is that this technology will not be available until June 2013. But you could start planning for your new autopilot now.

For sales enquiries contact Raymarine Asia Pty Ltd on (02) 9479 4800.