Navier showed off what it is calling the first ever auto-docking feature for a hydrofoil electric boat, which should make it even easier for beginner boaters to navigate their watercraft.
The electric boating startup described the feature as part of its larger vision to “increase autonomy of water vessels and unlock the world’s waterways.”
The auto-docking feature has been designed for the company’s N30 electric boat, which Navier described as “the only boat of its kind to go from sketch to flight in under a year.”
When implemented, the auto-docking feature will allow boaters to dock with a single push of a button.
As Navier’s CEO and founder Sampriti Bhattacharyya explained, the new autonomous feature has been in high demand:
Autodocking was the most requested feature by our existing customer base. Being the first in the industry to deliver this is a huge milestone for the company and the future of the boating experience. We’re rethinking design from the ground up – with software at the core – enabling us to deliver a product that is highly differentiated on customer experience and performance. Our goal is to bring the joy of sustainable boating to anyone, even those who love water but are overwhelmed at the thought of handling a boat.
The N30’s new auto-docking system will used advanced computer vision and an array of sensors to precisely gauge the location of the boat compared to the selected slip, while simultaneously avoiding obstacles and compensating for outside forces such as wind.
The boat’s two independently steerable motors are key to the process, as they can allow the Navier N30 to perform docking maneuvers such as pure translational and turning movements that other single and fixed rear engine boats cannot achieve.
The auto-docking system is designed to hold the boat in a fixed position once it has reached its target point, which will allow the boat to be secured to the dock. Boaters can of course take over manual control of the boat to use the steering and maneuvering capabilities of the motors in manual docking mode via a joystick in the cockpit.
The auto-docking feature will become available for beta users in the boat’s 2023 edition. That model has already sold out, but customers can reserve the 2024 edition of the N30 with the option to add auto-docking. Reservations require a refundable deposit of US $1,000, though the final price of the boat is expected to be at least US $375,000.
The N30 is described as the first commercially available electric hydrofoilling boat built in the US and Navier claims it is the longest range electric boat in the world in its size class. It currently has few competitors in the hydrofoil electric boat category, though companies like Swedish hydrofoil e-boat maker Candela have been selling highly efficient electric boats for years. Other electric boat makers are also targeting the luxury electric watercraft market, though their conventional hulls require significantly larger batteries and higher power motors to achieve comparable ranges to electric hydrofoil boats.
Hydrofoill electric boats are around 10x more efficient than traditional gas boats thanks to the significantly reduced drag when the boat flies on its foils, not to mention the advantages of high-efficiency electric powertrains. The Navier N30 recently showed off its performance carrying 10 people at America’s Cup where it completed “the longest range trip of any electric boat in its class” at the event.
Navier has already raised over US $10 million in seed funding from Next View Ventures, Liquid 2, GFC, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, and Primavera Capital. While its first product is squarely in the recreational boat category, the company seems set to chart a path similar to Candela that includes commercial electric boats such as ferries and water taxies.
What do you think? Will you be letting a computer dock your third-of-a-million-dollar boat anytime soon? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comment section below!
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