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Marine autopilot with CAN

Simrad Yachting (UK), subsidiary company of Navico, has announced that the SG05 CANbus autopilot now offers compatibility between the company’s navigation systems and Optimus Power Steering (EPS) or Optimus 360 joystick docking control systems by Seastar Solutions. The autopilot is a digital communication link between autopilot controllers and electronically steered engines.

CONCERNING THE USE OF CAN in marine electronic networks, Robert Langford-Wood, product manager at Navico, said: “Almost all of our marine electronic networks run CAN protocols (NMEA2000 and Simnet) so use is not exclusively for autopilots. However, over the last few years we have seen more and more engine and steering gear manufacturers switch over to CAN based systems so we have been busy integrating our autopilots with these systems.”

The CANbus autopilot computer sits between the CAN network and the steering CAN network and provides the rudder commands in order to steer the boat to a compass heading or set waypoint. The autopilot guides the Optimus EPS or Optimus 360 steering system to a waypoint, heading or set turn pattern such as a U-turn, spiral turn and many more - it can even initiate a zigzag turn, thanks to the autopilot’s use of the CANbus data network. The autopilot can use depth tracking to steer a route. It’s connection to the steering systems via the CANbus data network requires no additional hydraulic pump, making it suitable for both equipping new boats and for retro fit. A multifunction display is the easiest way to control the autopilot. It can also be controlled via an AP24, AP28 or OP10 autopilot control unit.

Optimus EPS is an Electronic Power Steering System. It provides car-like steering performance for outboard boats and replaces the traditional hydraulic steering system without the need for tie bars. Optimus 360 is a joystick control steering, and it is the industry’s first outboard joystick docking control system that does not use bow thrusters as an aftermarket system. The autopilot can also interface with different systems, e.g. the Yamaha Helm Master, Garmin’s Viper Steering System for Viking Yachts, and Volvo Penta’s EVC and IPS.