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Navigation Mode for Autopilots

April 17, 2023 • 2 min read

A better way to navigate with your autopilot

Orca's RIB has a Mercury Engine Gateway for fuel and engine monitoring along with a Garmin Intelliducer for depthfinding.

Autopilots are great tools. They make navigating open waters easier, and let you focus on your surroundings rather than steering in the right direction. Orca supports autopilots from Garmin, Simrad, B&G, and Raymarine – and common to all these autopilots is that they can be set to follow a pre-defined route. 

When following a pre-defined route, your autopilot will ask for approval before it turns toward your next waypoint. Raymarine autopilots ask for approval at every single waypoint, while other autopilots only ask for confirmation when the turn is sharper than a set threshold.

While route-following is a great feature of modern autopilots, it also means you’ll have to be at the helm, accepting confirmation requests as they appear. This rigidness creates friction and draws focus away from your surroundings and the task at hand.

In this week’s release, we’re introducing approvals and pre-approvals for Raymarine autopilots. Simrad, B&G, and Garmin autopilots will receive the same support in the coming weeks. The interface for Navigation Control has also received an upgrade to make it more informative. 

With the new autopilot controls, Orca now shows you an overview of the route and what it will direct the autopilot to do once you activate it. To let the autopilot take control, press Activate.

Autopilot controls show that a sharp turn to port is awaiting approval.

Autopilot controls show that a sharp turn to port is awaiting approval.

When following a route, Orca shows you how you are progressing along the current leg of your route – and exactly when and how the next turn will happen. If the upcoming turn is less than 30 degrees, Orca will automatically approve the turn. If the turn is more than 30 degrees, you’ll be asked to approve the turn.

Pre-approve a turn and let the autopilot handle it while you focus on everything else.

What’s unique about Orca’s approach to autopilot turn approvals, is that you can pre-approve a turn. If you know that it’s safe to turn, just approve the turn before you reach the waypoint, and Orca will initiate the turn when you reach the waypoint.

Pre-approval means that you don’t need to be at the helm at the very moment you want to turn – such as a tack or gybe. Instead, you can let the autopilot initiate the turn while you focus on everything else. This approach gives you more flexibility in how to approach demanding situations, while still giving you full control of what the autopilot is allowed to do.

The Orca Core

The Orca Core

Autopilot control is powered by Orca Core. The Core lets you control all modern autopilots from your phone, tablet, Orca Display, and even Apple Watch. It will also give you advanced instruments, and a more accurate navigation experience with its built-in high-sensitivity GPS and precision compass. 

Orca Core is delivered with free express shipping and backed by a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so you can try the new autopilot controls risk-free.

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