The future of outboard steering? Dometic Optimus All-Electric Steering system

Ben Stein

Ben Stein

Publisher of Panbo.com, passionate marine electronics enthusiast, 100-ton USCG master.

12 Responses

  1. abbor says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience with the install and for explaining the technology. I find this product very interesting, but I agree the price must significantly down for widespread adaption. The display should be possible to remove if the system gets integrated with MFD’s, for some MFD manufacturers this can be done by an Android app.

    The steering also needs to be integrated with autopilot functionality from the “big four”, I don’t expect an Dometic autopilot to offer the MFD integration and fishing functionality I’m used to. Do you know if the Simrad SG05 Optimus gateway is compatible with Optimus All-electric Steering?

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      I generally agree, Abbor, and especially for a single outboard situation. But even then, Ben S got a bunch of valuable steering features for his Yamaha 150 that I won’t get as I switch from cable to hydraulic steering for my E-Tec 115. They’re worth some level of premium pricing, I think.

      And I don’t think we can overstate what possible with this all-electric steering and multiple outboards. I’ve been on several demos of earlier Optimus joystick systems and while I was really impressed with the control performance, I did not like all the hydraulic complexity between the electronics and the outboards. That’s gone, and integrating this AES tech with all sorts of MFDs, apps, whatever is pretty much just a matter of software and company relationships. The cost for the features can go down while precision, simplicity, and reliability go up.

    • I think that the only difference is that the pump and rudder sensor are integrated inside the electric actuator, but the rest of the system is the same, so it should work with any autopilot compatible with Optimus steering. I’ve installed Optimus joystick system and I can’t remember if the autopilot has advanced patterns, but it worked well and can follow course from plotter as any other.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      I’ve spoken with 3 out of 4 of the big four and all three of them have APs that will work with this system. But, at least of the three I talked with they all charge a fair amount more for this drive-by-wire autopilot than for a traditional hydraulic autopilot. I find this confounding and a little illogical. The one thing I can figure out is that these are the same APs used for pod systems as well and the electronics manufacturers have commanded a premium for the technology integration. But, it seems to me the cost should be lower for an AP that just has to send commands to an electronic steering system than one that controls a high current mechanical pump.

      -Ben S.

  2. Price is the problem. It’s too expensive. I have installed the hydraulic Optimus and it’s fantastic, but it’s too expensive, then if this is more expensive, it’s worse. They want to cut the price with the screen, but I don’t think this is the problem, as probably the screen is less than 10% of price, and I think it’s necessary, maybe integration with mfd is the answer. I would like to know if they are going to do a stern drive version, as I think that Volvo was already using Optimus equipment for DPS, and I would prefer this than an hydraulic steering for stern drive. About autopilot, there are cheap GPS antennas with compass nowadays, they can make it work even with just a gps. They should introduce the system wit incorporated autopilot, then it wouldn’t be so expensive. In Optimus with joystick you connect the satelital Compass and then you have dynamic position and autopilot, so I think that the autopilot software is already inside all the Optimus systems, waiting to be unlocked and read a position and course to work. It’s a pitty that you must pay for a feature that is already in the equipment.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      Price is definitely the big challenge. I’m hopeful that by simplifying the system they can bring the price down some. Lowering the price will increase the adoption which will hopefully allow them further economies of scale and reduce the price even further.

      The ~$800 autopilot they’re working to develop is pretty much what you describe in terms of a much cheaper sensor and leveraging the software already in the unit. That also might help with overall price comparisons. At $6,000 (list) for a power steering system with all the goodness of Optimus and autopilot the system is much more competitive with a hydraulic system and hydraulic autopilot.

      -Ben S.

  3. Yamaha has his own system, Mercury has his own system, Evinrude had it’s own system. Who will use it? Suzuki, Honda and old boats? There’s a market for this kind of things, but not with this price.

  4. Luposian says:

    I’m planning on converting my 1981 Citation Marquis to all-electric and having all-electronic steering is what I was also aiming for. Didn’t realize they’d already made such a system. The price may be a bit steep, but that’s what budgets are for… to know if you can afford it or not. 😀

  5. Mark says:

    Hi Ben. Thanks for this video, and happy new year.
    In the first video at 1:55, it looks like there is a delay between the turn on the helm and the reaction of the actuator? Or are the two cameras not totally in sync?
    Can the system change directions quickly? Like, when you start turning in the wrong direction and correct it immediately: will the system be able react quickly?

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      Hi Mark,

      I think my sync might be slightly off there. I’ve never found any lag in real-world handling. Also, I’ve seen no delays in changing directions and found the unit to move plenty quick enough. When sitting dockside and running the wheel lock-to-lock, visually it doesn’t seem like it’s turning fast enough. In actual handling, I’ve always found it to be plenty fast, including in docking situations where I do sometimes run the steering from one lock to the other.

      -Ben S.

  6. Thijs Meulendijks says:

    Who does sales in Europe/Netherlands?

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