There are two possible tasks for an automated navigation
system. One is to let you take a nap while on watch, and the other is to not allow you to sleep while on watch. When sailing (in complex environments like archipelagos, as I often do) I like to have a second set of eyes watching the surroundings, charts
and meters. The other person may well note something that I may miss.
A good autopilot
would do also this - force the pilot to stay alert and not miss signs of danger
. We already have some alerts set, like when the water
gets too shallow. A good autopilot would make all these warnings more automatic. Instead of just following the chosen direction, it would tell me when it no more makes sense to follow that direction. It could make a big noise
and tell me that nearby there is a rock, if I had not already told it that I have taken that rock into account in my navigation
This autopilot would thus extend the current
separate warning systems and some additional ones into an integrated system. It would make sure that I will observe everything that is necessary for safe sailing. And it would punish me by giving alerts if it thinks I have missed something. That would be a third navigator onboard, making sure that sailing is safe.
A good autopilot would also make it possible for me to take a nap and wake me up if it observers something risky. It would be my choice if I want to delegate my duties to the automated system, or if I would task it to improve my performance, to keep me awake, to double check that I'm up to date all the time, and to make sure that I will not ignore anything important.