The power of Zeus, part 3

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Apr 18, 2006

Zeus Station Holding crop Panbo

So what do I mean that the new Zeus propulsion system has nerves as well as brains? Well, hooked into the drive controller is an ultra high precision GPS and inertial navigation sensor which feeds it fast updates on the boat’s location along with which way she’s heading, sliding, twisting, rolling etc. Thus the drive gets instant feedback about how well it’s doing what you asked it to do. In other words, if you’re coming alongside a dock and you push the joystick a little bit to starboard, Zeus will take you a little bit to starboard no matter if the current or wind are pushing you hard toward the dock, away from it, or in some other direction. Zeus can do what the very best boat driver does, i.e. observe what the yacht is actually doing in real time, figure out all the forces involved, and compensate for them to get her to go where he wants her to go. Of course the ultimate expression of a totally integrated drive/navigation system like this is its ability to hold station, which seemed rock solid during the demo. It works so well, in fact, that the Cummins guys say they have put Ingenuity next to dock and stepped ashore—no dock lines (though that will never be an advertised feature). That well!

Now it must be noted that the specific navigation sensor hardware being used on the demo is apparently a very expensive Oxford Technologies RT3000 working with private Omnistar differential GPS corrections, which adds a serious subscription expense. But it’s clear that Brunswick’s electronics division is hard at work trying to provide the needed level of precision by the time Zeus becomes a real shipping system. In fact, Zeus may explain why Brunswick picked up MX Marine, which I couldn’t figure out last Spring. The image above shows a Navman/Northstar auto pilot that’s been souped up to work with Zeus’s amazing capabilities (note how the pilot is neatly showing you what the drives are up to as you cast a line, or take a picture, or whatever). It seems obvious that many Zeus boats will be Brunswick hulls with Brunswick drives and Brunswick electronics—all one—which is worth one more Zeus entry, tomorrow. 


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