I have been wondering…
Thought APM is not meant for manned vehicles, I see no big danger in trying it out on a small manned boat.
I thought of a kind of setup where APM is installed on a boat. The throttle output could be connected to an engine which would be able to read the signal, or simply tied to a servo which is connected to the throttle lever of the engine. Yaw would be connected to the boats rudder.
Next, we could hook up a tablet/PC running andropilot/droidplanner/mission planner for navigation.
APM already supports sonar operations. So, i guess it would be possible to connect a depth sonar.
APM supports gimbal stabilization…this could be used as a stabilization system for the whole boat. It might not cancel out all the rocking of the boat, but 50% cancellation could make a nice difference. Im imagining connecting giant servos with fins to the pitch, roll and yaw outputs for the gimbal.
Lots of other stuff could also be doable.
This could be a very cost effective way of turning a simple boat to a sophisticated boat with gyro stabilization and navigation.
Is this viable?
I’m no Rover specialist but I have a lot to do with boats through volunteer work in SAR/Sea Rescue.
Generally, that does all sound doable to me, although some of the things might turn out to be a technical challenge.
I personally also don’t see problems with an APM steering a fullsize boat, because most commercial autopilots for full size boats are a lot less sophisticated than an APM with Rover. Safety regulations in most countries anyways require a manual override be possible at all times and the master is always responsible for the boat, even if the autopilot is at the helm, so… As long as you don’t plan to steer a 30m yacht with waterjets with an APM, I’d say, you’d be ok.
I am planning to do this very thing. I ordered a APM 2.6 from ebay and just need to plug it in and start figuring it out. I plan to use a Firgelli linear actuator http://store.firgelli.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=1823 as the replacement for my previously homemade trolling motor steering tie rod (picture). They make an RC version that is a direct replacement for a servo. I don’t know if its entirely necessary, but adding a servo to the trolling motor for throttle control would be easy enough.