Norwegian company Orca has taken a fresh look at electronic charts systems and how they operate writes Dag Pike.

The display is a rugged Samsung unit that can be panel or base mounted

The display is a rugged Samsung unit that can be panel or base mounted

Orca has developed a new system from scratch that includes many advanced features that they claim are not available with current chart systems.

They call it their Marine co-Pilot and whilst it is built around the basic electronic chart system, the designers claim that it offers a great deal more. This includes the ability to be proactive by providing information about unexpected weather forecast changes, insufficient fuel for a planned route, and upcoming navigation challenges such as a heavily trafficked inlet. In addition it logs and analyses past trips and it is claimed that these analytics help the navigator to optimise the engine RPM for improved fuel consumption and to monitor engine temperatures and boat performance over time giving the ability to predict potential machinery problems.

As a further development the system is claimed to improve and learn. The co-Pilot’s route-engine recommends routes that other navigators commonly travel and the charts the system is based on will become more accurate as boaters collect depth data and this is included into the charts after careful analysis. The system uses a custom-built chart system that gives worldwide coverage and automatic updating which is based on official chart information.

To be effective the Orca system needs access to the internet. The co-Pilot uses its internet connection to download weather forecasts, upload trips for analysis into the cloud, and reviews AIS data to predict busy shipping lanes along an upcoming route. The Orca co-Pilot downloads trip-critical data along proposed routes and for the current area. The marine charts are always stored permanently on the co-pilot and so the internet connection does not need to be permanent.

The Orca co-Pilot can connect to the internet via WiFi and also with its built-in 4G cellular connection. Depending on your requirements, you can use WiFi and pre-download data at home or in the harbour before departure. You may also insert a SIM card into the Orca Display to have a constant internet connection whenever you are within cellular coverage. The display is a rugged Samsung unit that can be panel or base mounted.