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Introducing new autopilot controls

February 15, 2023 • 2 min read

New controls make changing heading and autopilot modes effortless.

Going forward with new autopilot

Autopilots are fantastic tools. They make navigating open waters easier, and let you focus on your surroundings rather than steering in the right direction. Autopilots are particularly useful for sailing, as modern autopilots allow you to direct your autopilot to keep a fixed angle towards the wind, removing the need to constantly trim your sails.

Orca can control modern Garmin, Simrad, and Raymarine autopilots wirelessly. Over the past year, we’ve added support for more navigation modes and types, and Orca now handles all major autopilot modes for the vast majority of modern autopilots out there.

While support for autopilot types and modes has increased, the user interface for autopilot control has not seen any updates since its initial introduction. The interface also lacks the flexibility to support new autopilot features that are coming soon, and it needed an upgrade to fit into the new instrument system that was introduced a few weeks ago. In short, it is time for an upgrade.

Better autopilot controls

The new autopilot makes changing modes and heading quick and easy. The main controls are now found inside the instruments. To access the main controls, swipe to your leftmost instrument page.

The new autopilot controls can be found on the leftmost instrument page.

The new controls give you a clear overview of the status of your autopilot along with important navigation information such as your current heading, COG, and speed. Buttons are large, with good separation, making it easy to do the changes you want.

Each autopilot mode shows specific information related to that mode. For instance, wind mode, used for sailing will show wind direction and speed.

Wind Mode shows Apparent Wind Speed, Apparent Wind Angle, and Speed Through Water along with the current heading.

When your autopilot is engaged, the autopilot symbol in your instrument panel page indicator will change from gray to green. This small detail makes it easy to keep track of your autopilot, no matter which instrument panel you are viewing.

More flexibility

The main autopilot controls will always be on your leftmost instrument page. However, it is not the only way to control your autopilot. You can also add a more compact autopilot controller to any of your instrument pages.

Add an autopilot controller to an instrument page for easy access.

This compact controller is perfect for larger screens, such as the Orca Display, where you have space for your important instruments alongside the autopilot controller and your chart. The compact controller makes fine-tuning your heading, changing modes, and (dis)engaging the autopilot instant and effortless.

Just the beginning

This week’s update lays the groundwork for auto-tacking in wind mode and automatic route advancement in navigation mode, two important features a lot of you have asked for. We can’t wait to bring those to you as well.

Orca is the only navigation system that gives you full autopilot control on your mobile devices. Autopilot control is powered by the Orca Core, a Smart Navigation Hub that creates a wireless link between your personal devices and your boat’s autopilot and instruments. If you are looking for an easier and wireless way to control your autopilot, you should consider the Orca Core for your upcoming boating season.

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