The power of Zeus, part 2
Above is the Zeus demo boat, which has just departed a slip at Miami’s Sealine Marina and now—instead of the normal hard right, hard left exit—is going dead sideways down the channel. Leaving those bow lines neatly on the pilings was also impressively easy—no stretching—because the driver could bump the bow where he wanted it with just a little twist and push on the joystick. Now omni-directional joystick control, typically using twin engines and a bow thruster, has been around for a while, but Zeus is more powerful and much more precise, and eliminating the thruster eliminates the weakest link. Whereas close-quarters maneuvering is about the hardest thing to learn about boating these days, this is a revolutionary development. So how the hell does it work?
Well, surprise, there is a micro processor involved! Zeus’s control module can steer, shift, and throttle each drive independently…drives which can turn 45 degrees outward and 15 inward, and can do so at a screaming 45 degrees per second. Hence the driver’s simple command to go sideways, or any which ways, results in some complex vector analysis and propulsion commands that only a human trained like a helicopter pilot could pull off (illustrated below). So Zeus is way beyond drive-by-wire technology; it has brains. In fact, it has a nervous system too, which I’ll explain tomorrow.