(19)
(11)EP 3 805 088 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
14.04.2021 Bulletin 2021/15

(21)Application number: 20200664.9

(22)Date of filing:  08.10.2020
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
B63B 39/06(2006.01)
B63H 25/44(2006.01)
B63H 25/00(2006.01)
G05D 1/08(2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(30)Priority: 11.10.2019 JP 2019187886

(71)Applicant: YAMAHA HATSUDOKI KABUSHIKI KAISHA
Iwata-shi Shizuoka 438-8501 (JP)

(72)Inventor:
  • NAKATANI, Jun
    Iwata-shi, Shizuoka, 438-8501 (JP)

(74)Representative: Grünecker Patent- und Rechtsanwälte PartG mbB 
Leopoldstraße 4
80802 München
80802 München (DE)

  


(54)METHOD FOR CONTROLLING POSTURE CONTROL TABS OF MARINE VESSEL, CONTROL SYSTEM FOR CONTROLLING POSTURE CONTROL TABS TO BE MOUNTED ON MARINE VESSEL, AND MARINE VESSEL


(57) A control system for posture control tabs of a marine vessel that is capable of assisting operations of a steering control. Posture control tabs are mounted on a stern of a hull movably up or down to control a posture of the hull. Actuators actuate the respective posture control tabs. When a steering instruction is given trough the steering control, a controller determines a posture control tab to be actuated and control an actuator corresponding to the posture control tab determined to be actuated so as to change the position of the determined posture control tab.




Description


[0001] The present invention relates to a method for controlling posture control tabs of a marine vessel, a control system for controlling posture control tabs configured to be mounted on a marine vessel, and a marine vessel.

[0002] In marine vessels, a steering control like a steering wheel is typically used for giving instructions for controlling or changing the direction in which the marine vessel moves. In marine vessels including a propulsion device like an outboard motor that generates a propulsive force to move a hull, the propulsion device is used to control the direction in which the hull moves, according to steering instructions given through the steering control. Marine vessels having posture control tabs like trim tabs for controlling the posture of a hull are also known as shown in, for example, U.S. Patent No. 8261682 and Zipwake "Dynamic Trim-Control System" (URL: http://www.zipwake.com; hereafter referred to as Zipwake). Posture control tabs are mounted on the stern of a hull such that they are able to swing or protrude with respect to a retracted position at which the posture control tabs are not used. Furthermore, Japanese Laid-open Patent Publication (Kokai) No. S64-44396 discloses a control to raise or lower a trim tab as a posture control tab in conjunction with a steering operation of a steering wheel.

[0003] When a steering wheel is operated to change the direction in which a marine vessel having posture control tabs moves, an operation force necessary to operate the steering wheel for turning of the marine vessel may be different between the left turning and the right turning, depending on the trim position of the outboard motor. Accordingly, there was room for improvement in utilizing the posture control tabs to assist the steering operation of the steering wheel.

[0004] It is the object of the present invention to a method for controlling posture control tabs of a marine vessel, a control system for controlling posture control tabs configured to be mounted on a marine vessel and a marine vessel that are capable of assisting steering operations of a steering control as needed. According to the present invention said object is solved by a method for controlling posture control tabs of a marine vessel having the features of the independent claim 1. Moreover, said object is also solved by a control system for controlling posture control tabs configured to be mounted on a marine vessel according to claim 9 and/or a marine vessel according to claim 11. Preferred embodiments on bases of the present invention are laid down in the dependent claims.

[0005] According to a preferred embodiment, a control system for posture control tabs of a marine vessel, includes a port-side posture control tab and a starboard-side posture control tab, mounted on a port side and a starboard side of a stern of a hull, movably up or down to control a posture of the hull. The control system further includes a port-side actuator and a starboard-side actuator configured to respectively actuate the port-side posture control tab and the starboard-side posture control tab. The control system further includes an instruction acquisition unit configured to acquire a steering instruction given through a steering control that gives instructions for controlling the direction in which the hull moves. The control system further includes a trim position acquisition unit configured to acquire a trim position of a propulsion device that generates a propulsive force to move the hull. The control system further includes a controller configured or programmed to, upon the instruction acquisition unit acquiring the steering instruction, execute first control. The first controls is to determine a posture control tab to be actuated among the port-side posture control tab and the starboard-side posture control tab, on the basis of the trim position acquired by the trim position acquisition unit, and control one of the port-side actuator and the starboard-side actuator corresponding to the determined posture control tab so as to change the position of the determined posture control tab.

[0006] According to another preferred embodiment, a control system for posture control tabs of a marine vessel, includes a port-side posture control tab and a starboard-side posture control tab, mounted on a port side and a starboard side of a stern of a hull, movably up or down to control a posture of the hull. The control system further includes a port-side actuator and a starboard-side actuator configured to respectively actuate the port-side posture control tab and the starboard-side posture control tab. The control system further includes an instruction acquisition unit configured to acquire a steering instruction given through a steering control that gives instructions for controlling a direction in which the hull moves. The control system further includes a controller configured or programmed to, upon the instruction acquisition unit acquiring the steering instruction given through the steering control at a faster operation speed than a predetermined operation speed, execute first control. The first control is to determine a posture control tab to be actuated among the port-side posture control tab and the starboard-side posture control tab, on the basis of the direction of a change in movement of the hull instructed by the steering instruction, and control one of the port-side actuator and the starboard-side actuator corresponding to the determined posture control tab so as to change the position of the determined posture control tab.

[0007] According to another preferred embodiment, a control system for posture control tabs of a marine vessel, includes a port-side posture control tab and a starboard-side posture control tab, mounted on a port side and a starboard side of a stern of a hull, movably up or down to control a posture of the hull. The control system further includes a port-side actuator and a starboard-side actuator configured to respectively actuate the port-side posture control tab and the starboard-side posture control tab. The control system further includes an instruction acquisition unit configured to acquire a steering instruction given through a steering control that gives instructions for controlling a direction in which the hull moves. The control system further includes a controller configured or programmed to, in a first steering mode, control a propulsion device that generates a propulsive force to move the hull, according to the acquired steering instruction, to control a direction in which the hull moves, and in a steering second, control the port-side actuator and the starboard-side actuator according to the acquired steering instruction. The controller, in the first steering mode, determines whether or not an abnormality that the direction in which the hull moves is not controlled with the propulsion device according to the steering instruction, has occurred, and, upon determining that the abnormality has occurred, switches from the first steering mode to the second steering mode.

[0008] According to another preferred embodiment, a marine vessel includes a hull; a steering control that gives instructions for controlling a direction in which the hull moves; a propulsion device that generates a propulsive force to move the hull; and one of the above-described posture control systems.

[0009] According to an preferred embodiment, when a steering instruction is acquired in the control system for posture control tabs of a marine vessel, a posture control tab to be actuated is determined on the basis of the trim position acquired, and a corresponding actuator is controlled to actuate the determined posture control tab to change the position of the determined posture control tab. This causes steering operations to be assisted as necessary.

[0010] Further features of the present teaching will become apparent from the following description of preferred embodiments with reference to the attached drawings.

[0011] The above and other elements, features, steps, characteristics and advantages of the present teaching will become more apparent from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments with reference to the attached drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0012] 

FIG. 1 is a top view of a marine vessel to which a posture control system for a hull according to a preferred embodiment is provided.

FIG. 2 is a side view of a trim tab unit attached to a hull.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a maneuvering system.

FIG. 4 is a flowchart of trim tab control processing.

FIG. 5 is a flowchart of trim tab control processing.

FIG. 6 is a part of a flowchart of trim tab control processing.

FIG. 7 is a flowchart of steering control processing.


DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS



[0013] Hereinafter, preferred embodiments related to several aspects will be described with reference to the drawings.

First Embodiment



[0014] First, a description is given of the first embodiment. FIG. 1 is a top view of a marine vessel to which a posture control system for a hull according to the first embodiment is provided. A marine vessel 11 includes a hull 13, an outboard motor 15 defining and functioning as a marine propulsion device mounted on the hull 13, and a plurality of (for example, a pair of) trim tab units (trim tab units 20A and 20B in FIG. 1). A central unit 10, a steering wheel 18, and a throttle lever 12 are provided in the vicinity of a cockpit in the hull 13.

[0015] In the following description, a fore-and-aft direction, a crosswise direction, and a vertical direction refer to a fore-and-aft direction, a crosswise direction, and a vertical direction, respectively, of the hull 13. For example, as shown in FIG 1, a centerline C1 extending in the fore-and-aft direction of the hull 13 passes through the center of gravity G of the marine vessel 11. The fore-and-aft direction is the direction along the centerline C1. Fore or front refers to the direction toward the upper side of the view along the centerline C1. Aft or rear is the direction toward the lower side of the view along the centerline C1. The crosswise direction is defined based on a case in which the hull 13 is viewed from the rear. The vertical direction is vertical to the fore-and-aft direction and the crosswise direction.

[0016] The outboard motor 15 is mounted on a stern of the hull 13. The outboard motor 15 is mounted on the hull 13 via a mounting unit 14. The outboard motor 15 includes an engine 16, which is, for example, an internal combustion engine. The outboard motor 15 generates a propulsive force to move the hull 13 by a propeller (not shown) that is turned by a driving force of the engine 15.

[0017] The mounting unit 14 includes a swivel bracket, a clamp bracket, a maneuvering shaft, and a tilt shaft (none of which are illustrated). The mounting unit 14 further includes a power trim and tilt mechanism (PTT mechanism) 23 (see FIG. 3). The PTT mechanism 23 turns the outboard motor 15 about the tilt shaft. This makes it possible to change an inclination angle (a trim angle or a tilt angle) of the outboard motor 15 with respect to the hull 13, and hence a trim adjustment is made and the outboard motor 15 is tilted up or down. Moreover, the outboard motor 15 is able to turn about a turning center C2 (about the steering shaft) with respect to the swivel bracket. Operating the steering wheel 18 causes the outboard motor 15 to turn about the turning center C2 in the crosswise direction (direction R1). It controls the direction in which the marine vessel 11 moves.

[0018] The pair of trim tab units 20A and 20B is mounted on the stern on the port side and the starboard side such that they are able to swing about a swing axis C3. To distinguish the two trim tab units 20A and 20B from each other, the one located on the port or left side is referred to as the "trim tab unit 20A", and the one located on the starboard or right side is referred to as the "trim tab unit 20B". The trim tab units 20A and 20B includes a tab 21A (port-side posture control tab) and a tab 21B (starboard-side posture control tab), respectively.

[0019] FIG. 2 is a side view of the trim tab unit 20A attached to the hull 13. The trim tab units 20A and 20B have the same construction, and hence a construction of only the trim tab unit 20A will be described as a representative example. The trim tab unit 20A includes a trim tab actuator 22A and a tab 21A. The tab 21A is attached to the rear of the hull 13 such that it is able to swing about the swing axis C3. For example, the proximal end of the tab 21A is attached to the rear of the hull 13, and the free end of the tab 21A swings up and down (in a swinging direction R2) about the swing axis C3. The tab 21A is an example of a posture control tab that controls the posture of the hull 13 by moving up or down.

[0020] The trim tab actuator 22A is disposed between the tab 21A and the hull 13 such that it connects the tab 21A and the hull 13 together. The trim tab actuator 22A actuates the tab 21A to swing it with respect to the hull 13. It should be noted that the tab 21A indicated by the chain double-dashed line in FIG. 2 is at a position where its free end is at the highest level (position where the tab-lowering amount is 0%), and this position corresponds to a retracted position. The tab 21A indicated by the solid line in FIG. 2 is at a position where its free end is at a lower level than a keel at the bottom of the marine vessel 11. It should be noted that a range in which the tab 21A is able to swing is not limited to the one illustrated in FIG. 2. The swinging direction R2 is defined with reference to the swing axis C3. The swing axis C3 is perpendicular or substantially perpendicular to the centerline C1 and parallel or substantially parallel to, for example, the crosswise direction. It should be noted that the swing axis C3 may extend diagonally so as to cross the turning center C2.

[0021] FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a maneuvering system. The maneuvering system includes a control system for posture control tabs according to the first embodiment. The marine vessel 11 includes a controller 30, a throttle position sensor 34, a steering angle sensor 35, a hull speed sensor 36, a hull acceleration sensor 37, a posture sensor 38, a reception unit 39, a display unit 9, and a setting operation unit 19. The marine vessel 11 also includes an engine rpm detector 17, a turning actuator 24, the PTT mechanism 23, and the trim tab actuators 22A and 22B (see FIG. 2 as well). The marine vessel 11 further includes a steering speed sensor 27.

[0022] The controller 30, the steering angle sensor 35, the hull speed sensor 36, the hull acceleration sensor 37, the posture sensor 38, the reception unit 39, the display unit 9, the setting operation unit 19, and the steering speed sensor 27 are included in the central unit 10 or disposed in the vicinity of the central unit 10. The turning actuator 24 and the PTT mechanism 23 are provided for the outboard motor 15. The throttle position sensor 34 and the engine rpm detector 17 are provided in the outboard motor 15. The trim tab actuators 22A and 22B are included in the trim tab units 20A and 20B, respectively. The steering speed sensor 27 detects the operation speed of the steering wheel 18, i.e., the steering speed.

[0023] The controller 30 includes a CPU 31, a ROM 32, a RAM 33, and a timer which is not illustrated. The ROM 32 stores a control program. The CPU 31 loads the control program stored in the ROM 32 into the RAM 33 to implement various types of control processes. The RAM 33 provides a work area for the CPU 31 to execute the control program.

[0024] Results of detection by the sensors 27 and 34 to 38 and the engine rpm detector 17 are supplied to the controller 30. The throttle position sensor 34 detects the opening angle of a throttle valve, which is not illustrated. The steering angle sensor 35 detects the turning angle of the steering wheel 18 that has turned. The hull speed sensor 36 and the hull acceleration sensor 37 detect the speed (vessel speed) and the acceleration, respectively, of the marine vessel 11 (the hull 13) while it is traveling.

[0025] The posture sensor 38 includes, for example, a gyro sensor, a magnetic direction sensor, and so forth. Based on a signal output from the posture sensor 38, the controller 30 calculates a roll angle, a pitch angle, and a yaw angle. It should be noted that the controller 30 may calculate the roll angle and the pitch angle based on a signal output from the hull acceleration sensor 37. The reception unit 39 includes a GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) receiver such as a GPS and includes a function of receiving GPS signals and various types of signals as positional information. Signals received by the reception unit 39 are supplied to the CPU 31. Here, from a speed restricted area or ground in the vicinity, an identification signal providing notification that the area is a speed restricted area is transmitted. The speed restricted area refers to an area in a harbor or the like in which is required to limit the speed of a marine vessel to a predetermined speed or lower. The reception unit 39 also includes a function of receiving the identification signal. It should be noted that the acceleration of the hull 13 may also be obtained from a GPS signal received by the reception unit 39.

[0026] The engine rpm detector 17 detects the number of revolutions of the engine 16 per unit time (hereafter referred to as "the engine rpm" or "N"). The display unit 9 displays various types of information. The setting operation unit 19 includes an operator that a vessel operator uses to perform operations relating to maneuvering, a PTT operation switch, a setting operator that a vessel operator uses to make various settings, and an input operator that a vessel operator uses to input various types of instructions (none of which are illustrated).

[0027] The turning actuator 42 turns the outboard motor 15 about the turning center C2 with respect to the hull 13. Turning the outboard motor 15 about the turning center C2 changes the direction in which a propulsive force acts on the centerline C1 of the hull 13. The PTT mechanism 23 tilts the outboard motor 15 with respect to the clamp bracket by turning the outboard motor 15 about the tilt shaft. The PTT mechanism 23 is operated in response to, for example, operation of the PTT operation switch. As a result, the inclination angle (trim angle or tilt angle) of the outboard motor 15 with respect to the hull 13 is changed.

[0028] The trim tab actuator 22A (port-side actuator) and the trim tab actuator 22B (starboard-side actuator) are controlled by the controller 30. For example, the trim tab actuators 22A and 22B operate in response to the controller 30 outputting control signals to them. In response to the operation of one of the trim tab actuators 22A and 22B, the corresponding one of tabs 21A and 21B swings. It should be noted that actuators used for the PTT mechanism 23 or the trim tab actuators 22A and 22B may be either hydraulic or electric.

[0029] It should be noted that the controller 30 may obtain results of detection by the engine rpm detector 17 via a remote control ECU, which is not illustrated. The controller 30 may also use an outboard motor ECU (not illustrated) provided in the outboard motors 15, to control the engine 16.

[0030] Signals output by the posture sensor 38 are used also for a detection of the turning state of the hull 13. The signals output from the posture sensor 38 includes a yaw rate (yaw angular-velocity) around the yaw axis. The CPU 31 uses the yaw rate output from the posture sensor 38 to determine whether or not the travel direction of the hull 13 is straight on. The CPU 31 determines that the travel direction of the hull 13 is straight on if the yaw rate is equal to or less than a predetermined value, and determines that the travel direction of the hull 13 is turning if the yaw rate exceeds the predetermined value. It should be noted that the CPU 31 may determine whether or not the traveling direction of the hull 13 has changed on the basis of the time series data of the yaw angle acquired from the magnetic direction sensor in the posture sensor 38. It should be noted that in the first embodiment, it is not essential to detect the turning state.

[0031] In the first embodiment, the steering wheel 18 is used as an example of a steering control that gives instructions for controlling a direction in which a hull moves. A description is given of an outline of the trim tab control processing (FIG. 4) here, and a detailed description will be given of the trim tab control processing later.

[0032] In response to a steering operation of the steering wheel 18, which instructs a change in movement of the hull 13, the CPU 31 assists the steering operation by controlling the trim tab units 20A and 20B. First, the CPU 31 acquires the trim position of the outboard motor 15. The trim position is an inclination angle of the outboard motor 15 relative to the clamp bracket. The trim position changes by the operation of the PTT mechanism 23 on the basis of the command from the CPU 31, and the CPU 31 constantly grasps the trim position from the command content.

[0033] On the other hand, the "actual trim angle" is a substantial trim angle reflecting the pitch angle of the hull 13, and is defined as follows. The CPU 31 estimates the axis line of the propeller shaft on the basis of the trim position obtained from the command and the pitch angle of the hull 13. Then, the CPU 31 determines the angle formed by the estimated axial line of the propeller shaft with the horizon in the rear of the hull as the actual trim angle.

[0034] A description is now given of an outline of the trim tab control processing (FIG. 4) which will be described in detail. When a steering instruction given through the steering wheel 18 is acquired, the CPU 31 determines a posture control tab to be actuated among the tabs 21A and 21B, on the basis of the trim position of the outboard motor 15, and controls one of the trim tab actuators 22A and 22B corresponding to the determined posture control tab so as to change the position of the determined posture control tab (first control). At this time, the CPU 31 determines, on the basis of the trim position of the outboard motor 15 and the pitch angle of the hull 13, an operation direction of the steering wheel 18 in which an operation force necessary to operate the steering wheel 18 becomes large, among the direction of right turning of the hull 13 and the direction of left turning of the hull 13. In order to determine the operation direction in which the operation force becomes large, the CPU 31 compares the actual trim angle with the "reference angle". This is because the operation direction in which the operation force becomes large changes depending on the actual trim angle. In the first embodiment, the term "operation force" is referred to as the weight of the steering wheel 18 felt by the driver operating the steering wheel 18. Strictly speaking, the actuation of the tabs 21A and 21B does not necessarily change the operation force, but can reduce the operation amount of the steering wheel 18 necessary for the desired change in movement of the hull 13, thereby reducing the sensory burden on the driver as a result. In the first embodiment, reduction of the driver's sensory burden is used in the same meaning as reduction of the operation force.

[0035] As an example, the reference angle is determined in advance as a fixed value. First, a description is given of the method of determining the reference angle and the relationship between the actual trim angle of the outboard motor 15 and the weight of the steering.

[0036] In a state where the trim angle of the outboard motor 15 is in a horizontal position with respect to the water flow, the propeller angles on the left and right typically become the same with respect to the water flow, and the weights of steering on the left and right becomes the same, with the exception of the paddle wheel effect. Accordingly, depending on the pitch angle of the hull 13, the trim position at which the weights of the steering become equal on the left and right changes.

[0037] In view of the paddle wheel effect, the trim position at which the weights of the steering become equal on the left and right becomes a position where the outboard motor 15 is trimmed down from the horizon. The paddle wheel effect changes depending on the vessel speed, the propeller pitch, and the propeller rotation speed. In the paddle wheel effect, a force that moves the stern to the right acts, and hence a force that turns the hull 13 to the left acts.

[0038] However, when the outboard motor 15 is trimmed down, the left propeller works relatively more than the right propeller, and hence the reaction force of the rotating propeller generates a force that turns the hull to the right. Accordingly, an effect of the outboard motor 15 trimmed down to a certain position balances the paddle wheel effect. This balanced position is a trim position where the weights of the steering become equal on the left and right.

[0039] It should be noted that in a case where the weights of the steering on the right and left are different, the difference in the weight changes depending on the difference in the amount of water propelled by the propeller on the right and left. The degree to which the weight difference changes depends on the vessel speed, the propeller pitch, and the propeller rotation speed, in addition to the trim position and the pitch of the hull 13. Accordingly, the trim position at which the weights of the steering become equal on the left and right is determined on the basis of these elements.

[0040] In the first embodiment, a fixed reference angle is determined in advance on the basis of the propeller pitch in consideration of the above elements and the paddle wheel effect. The reference angle is stored in the ROM 32. It should be noted that when used, the reference angle may be corrected on the basis of at least one of the vessel speed and the propeller rotation speed.

[0041] In the first embodiment, if the actual trim angle is in the down direction relative to the reference angle, it is determined that the steering operation that causes the left turning of the hull 13 needs greater force. If the actual trim angle is in the up direction relative to the reference angle, it is determined that the right turning of the hull 13 needs greater force. If a steering operation is performed through the steering wheel 18 in a direction in which the operation force becomes large, the trim tab units 20A and 20B are controlled to assist turning of the hull 13.

[0042] FIG. 4 is a flowchart of the trim tab control processing. This processing is implemented by the CPU 31 loading and executing, in the RAM 33, the control program stored in the ROM 32. This process is started, for example, when the vessel maneuvering system is activated. In this processing, the CPU 31 functions as an instruction acquisition unit that acquires a steering instruction given through the steering wheel 18, a trim position acquisition unit that acquires the trim position of the outboard motor 15, and a controller according to a preferred embodiment.

[0043] In step S101, the CPU 31 waits for a predetermined period of time (for example, between 100 ms and 1 sec) to elapse. After the predetermined period of time has elapsed, the CPU 31 determines in step S102 whether or not an instruction for controlling the direction in which the hull 13 moves (steering instruction), given through the steering wheel 18, satisfying a predetermined condition has been acquired. The predetermined condition mentioned here is satisfied when at least one of a first condition and a second condition described below is satisfied.

[0044] The first condition is that the operation amount from the neutral position of the steering wheel 18 is larger than a predetermined amount. The operation amount is acquired from a change in the output signal of the steering angle sensor 35, for example. The second condition is that the speed of a steering operation of the steering wheel 18 is higher than a predetermined operation speed. By using the predetermined conditions, the posture control of the hull 13 can be stabilized by preventing the reaction from becoming hypersensitive. The operation speed of the steering wheel 18 is acquired from the output signal of the steering speed sensor 27. It should be noted that the operation speed may be acquired from a change in the output signal of the steering angle sensor 35 within the predetermined period of time. Alternatively, instead of the speed of the steering operation, the second condition may be that the acceleration of the steering operation is acquired from the output signal of the steering speed sensor 27 and this acceleration is larger than a predetermined acceleration. It should be noted that the determination as to whether or not a steering instruction has been obtained is performed not only during straight travel of the hull 13 but also during turning of the hull 13 at a constant steering angle.

[0045] After the determination in step S102, the CPU 31 returns the processing to step S101 if a steering instruction given through the steering wheel 18 satisfying the predetermined condition is not acquired. If a steering instruction given through the steering wheel 18 satisfying the predetermined condition is acquired, the CPU 31 proceeds with the processing to step S103.

[0046] In step S103, the CPU 31 determines, on the basis of the trim position of the outboard motor 15 and the pitch angle of the hull 13, the operation direction of the steering wheel 18 in which an operation force necessary to operate the steering wheel 18 becomes large, among the direction of right turning of the hull 13 and the direction of left turning of the hull 13. That is, the CPU 31 determines the direction in which the operation of the steering wheel 18 needs greater force or the steering wheel 18 becomes heavy. As described above, the pitch angle is acquired from the output signal of the posture sensor 38. The CPU 31 obtains the actual trim angle on the basis of the trim position and the pitch angle, and determines that the heavy direction (operation direction in which the operation force necessary to operate the steering wheel 18 becomes large) is the left direction if the actual trim angle is in the down direction relative to the reference angle, whereas determines that the heavy direction is the right direction if the actual trim angle is in the up direction relative to the reference angle. It should be noted that in order to simplify the processing, the CPU 31 may determine the operation direction in which the necessary operation force becomes large on the basis of the trim position.

[0047] In step S104, the CPU 31 determines whether or not the direction of the current operation of the steering wheel 18 (direction of a change in movement of the hull 13 instructed by the steering instruction given through the steering wheel 18) is the heavy direction. That is, the CPU 31 determines whether or not the direction of a change in movement of the hull 13 instructed by the steering instruction agrees with the determined operation in which an operation force necessary to operate the steering wheel 18 becomes large. Then, the CPU 31 proceeds with the processing to step S105 if the current operation direction of the steering wheel 18 agrees with the heavy direction, and the CPU 31 proceeds with the processing to step S106 if the current operation direction of the steering wheel 18 does not agree with the heavy direction.

[0048] In step S105, the CPU 31 determines a trim tab unit capable of assisting the steering operation by being moved down, among the trim tab units 20A and 20B. Specifically, the CPU 31 first determines one of the tabs 21A and 21B located on the same side as the current operation direction of the steering wheel 18 (or the heavy direction), as the tab to be actuated (in this case, the tab to be actuated downward). For example, if the current operation direction of the steering wheel 18 is the right and the heavy direction is the right, the tab 21B located on the right side is determined as the tab to be actuated. It should be noted that it is not essential that both the tabs 21A and 21B are in the retracted position at the time of determining the tab to be actuated.

[0049] After step S105, the CPU 31 determines in step S107 determines a position change amount Δ2, or the actuation amount of the tab determined to be actuated. In this case, the larger a difference D1 between the actual trim angle and the reference angle, the more the CPU 31 increases the change amount Δ2. In addition, the larger a vessel speed V acquired from the hull speed sensor 36 is, the more the CPU 31 reduces the position change amount Δ2. Accordingly, the CPU 31 calculates a tentative position change amount Δ1 from the following expression (1). Coefficients K1 and K2 are appropriately determined.



[0050] Next, the CPU 31 calculates the position change amount Δ2 by correcting the calculated tentative position change amount Δ1 by a pitch angle P, from the following expression (2). It should be noted that a positive value of each change amount means that the tab is to be moved downward.



[0051] According to the expression (2), the larger the pitch angle P is, the smaller the CPU 31 corrects the position change amount Δ2. This is because the substantial angle of the tabs 21A and 21B with respect to the horizontal plane changes depending on the pitch angle P. It should be noted that in the expression (1), the number of revolutions of the engine 16 (engine rotation speed N) may be used instead of the vessel speed V. In a case where the expression (1) is calculated by using the engine rotation speed N, the coefficient K2 may be a variable. This is because the difference in the amount of water propelled by the tabs 21A and 21B respectively located on the left side and the right side changes the difference in an operation force necessary to operate the steering wheel 18 between the left-hand side and the right-hand side. Accordingly, the coefficient K2 in the case where the engine rotation speed N is used in the calculation can be a positive value or can be a negative value. The coefficient K2 is determined by various parameters (relative position relationship of the left and right tabs 21A and 21B and the like), for example. In addition, the CPU 31 may calculate the position change amount Δ2 using the expression (2) in consideration with the propeller pitch. For example, the larger the propeller pitch is, the smaller the CPU 31 may correct the position change amount Δ2 so as to be.

[0052] In step S108 after passing through step S105, the CPU 31 controls one of the trim tab actuators 22A and 22B, corresponding to the tab determined to be actuated in step 105 among the tabs 21A and 21B, to actuate (move downward) the determined tab by the position change amount Δ2. This reduces the operation force necessary to operate the steering wheel 18 in the current operation direction. For example, in a case where the current operation direction of the steering wheel 18 is the right and the heavy direction is also the right, the right tab 21B is determined as the tab to be actuated and then is actuated downward. The actuated tab 21B generates resistance against water, and hence a force to make the hull 13 to turn in the right direction acts on the hull 13. As a result, the vessel driver feels that the operation force necessary to operate the steering wheel 18 to make the hull 13 turn in the right becomes small.

[0053] Next, in step S109, the CPU 31 executes "other processing". In other processing, for example, processing corresponding to setting or operation in the setting operation unit 19 is executed. In addition, with termination of the vessel maneuvering system, the processing of terminating the processing of the flowchart is executed. In addition, in other processing, setting and cancellation of various modes are also executed. Thereafter, the CPU 31 returns the processing to step S101.

[0054] In step S106, the CPU 31 determines a tab to be actuated or determines that there is no tab to be actuated. In a case where the processing proceeds from step S104 to step S106, the current operation direction of the steering wheel 18 is the direction in which the operation force necessary to operate the steering wheel 18 becomes small, and hence it is not necessary to assist the steering operation of the steering wheel 18. Therefore, first, if both the tabs 21A and 21B are in the retracted position, the CPU 31 determines that there is no tab to be actuated. If one of the tabs 21A and 21B that is located on the opposite side (non-operation side) to the current operation direction of the steering wheel 18 has lowered, the CPU 31 determines the one of the tabs 21A and 21B located on the non-operation side as the tab to be actuated (in this case, the tab to be actuated upward). This is for returning upward one of the tabs 21A and 21B that has been actuated downward in the processing of steps S105 to S108, in response to reversal of the operation direction.

[0055] In step S107 via step S106, the CPU 31 determines the position change amount Δ2, which is the actuation amount of one of the tabs 21A and 21B determined to be actuated. At that time, the CPU 31 calculates the position change amount Δ2 in the upward direction by using a similar method to that used for the position change amount Δ2 in the downward direction calculated by the expressions (1) and (2). In step S108 in this case, the tab moves up by the position change amount Δ2. If it is determined in step S106 that there is no tab to be actuated, the position change amount Δ2 is determined to be zero in step S107, and neither of the tabs 21A and 21B is substantially actuated in step S108.

[0056] It should be noted that in step S106, as a special case, it is conceivable a case in which one of the tabs 21A and 21B located on the same side as the current operation direction of the steering wheel 18 has been positioned down. This corresponds to such a case in which the actual trim angle changes abruptly while the operation of the steering wheel 18 is continued in the heavy direction and it abruptly reverses the direction in which the operation force necessary to operate the steering wheel 18 becomes large, for example. In such a case, the CPU 31 may determine one of the tabs 21A and 21B located on the same side as the current operation direction as the tab to be actuated (in this case, tab to be actuated upward). In this case, the tab determined to be actuated is actuated to the retracted position.

[0057] In addition, in step S105, as a special case, it is conceivable a case in which one of the tabs 21A and 21B located on the non-operation side has been positioned down. This is such a case in which the actual trim angle changes abruptly almost simultaneously with the switching of the operation direction of the steering wheel 18 and it abruptly reverses the direction in which the operation force necessary to operate the steering wheel 18 becomes large, for example. In such a case, the CPU 31 may determine one of the tabs 21A and 21 B located on the non-operation side as the tab to be actuated upward. Alternatively, the CPU 31 may determine one of the tabs 21A and 21B located on the same side as the operation direction of the steering wheel 18, as the tab to be actuated downward, and further determine the tab located on the non-operation side as the tab to be actuated upward. The position change amounts for the upward actuation and the downward actuation in this case may be determined such that the sum of the absolute value of the position change amount for the upward actuation and the absolute value of the position change amount for the downward actuation matches the position change amount Δ2 (which are by prorated with an appropriate ratio).

[0058] It should be noted that in step S105, the CPU 31 may determine the tab to be actuated only when the difference in operation force necessary to operate the steering wheel 18 between the left side and the right side is equal to or greater than a predetermined value.

[0059] According to the first embodiment, when a steering instruction is acquired, the CPU 31 determines a tab to be actuated among the tabs 21A and 21B on the basis of the trim position of the outboard motor 15 (or the trim position of the outboard motor 15 and the pitch angle of the hull 13), and controls one of the trim tab actuators 22A and 22B corresponding to the determined tab so as to change the position of the determined tab. This allows the steering operation of the steering wheel 18 to be assisted where necessary. The CPU 31 preferably determines, on the basis of the trim position of the outboard motor 15 and the pitch angle of the hull 13, an operation direction of the steering wheel 18 in which the operation force necessary to operate the steering wheel 18 becomes large, among the direction of right turning of the hull 13 and the direction of left turning of the hull 13, and in a case where the direction of the steering operation (the direction of a change in movement of the hull 13 instructed by the steering instruction) agrees with the determined operation direction, determines one of the tabs 21A and 21B located on the same side as the determined operation direction, as the tab to be actuated downward (S105). Due to this, when the steering wheel 18 is operated to turn in the determined direction (heavy direction), the tab located on the same side as the heavy direction moves downward, and hence the operation force necessary to operate the steering wheel 18 becomes small.

[0060] In addition, the position change amount Δ2 is determined on the basis of the trim position, either the speed V of the hull 13 or the engine rotation speed N, and the pitch angle P, and it is hence possible to assist the steering operation of an appropriate degree.

[0061] In addition, in a case where the direction of the steering operation (the direction of a change in movement of the hull 13 instructed by the steering instruction) does not agree with the heavy direction and one of the tabs 21A and 21B located on the opposite side to the current operation direction (the non-operation direction that is opposite to the direction of the change in movement of the hull 13 instructed by the steering instruction), is positioned down, the CPU 31 determines the tab on the non-operation side as the tab to be actuated upward (S106). In this case, in response to reversal of the operation direction of the steering wheel 18, one of the tabs 21A and 21B that has been positioned down for assisting the steering operation of the steering wheel 18, returns upward, and it reduces the resistance to the current steering operation.

[0062] In addition, the processing in and after step S103 is executed when the predetermined condition is satisfied (when at least one of the first condition and the second condition holds), and hence the posture control of the hull 13 can be stabilized by preventing the reaction from becoming hypersensitive to a minute operation of the steering wheel 18.

Second Embodiment



[0063] Next, a description is given of the second embodiment. The second embodiment is different from the first embodiment in the trim tab control processing, and the other configurations are the same.

[0064] FIG. 5 is a flowchart of the trim tab control processing. The execution subject and the start condition of this processing are the same as those of the trim tab control processing shown in FIG. 4. In step S201, the CPU 31 waits for a predetermined period of time to elapse, as in step S101. After the predetermined period of time has elapsed, the CPU 31 determines in step S202 whether or not a fast steering operation has been performed (in other words, whether or not a steering instruction given through the steering wheel 18 at a fast operation speed has been acquired). Here, it is determined that a fast steering operation has been performed if the speed of the steering operation of the steering wheel 18 is higher than a predetermined operation speed. This is the same as the determination as to whether or not the second condition is satisfied in step S102. Due to this, the posture control of the hull 13 can be stabilized by preventing the reaction from becoming hypersensitive.

[0065] As a result of the determination in step S202, the CPU 31 returns the processing to step S201 if a fast steering operation has not been performed, and proceeds with the processing to step S203 if a fast steering operation has been performed. In step S203, the CPU 31 determines one of the tabs 21A and 21B located on the same side as the current operation of the steering wheel 18 as the tab to be actuated (in this case, the tab to be actuated downward). For example, when the direction of the current operation of the steering wheel 18 is the right, the tab 21B located on the right side is determined to be actuated. It should be noted that it is not essential that both the tabs 21A and 21B are in the retracted position at the time of determining the tab to be actuated.

[0066] In step S204, the CPU 31 determines the position change amount Δ2, which is an actuation amount of the tab to be actuated. In this case, the larger an operation speed stV of the steering wheel 18 acquired from the steering speed sensor 27 is, the more the CPU 31 increases the position change amount Δ2. In addition, the larger the vessel speed V or the engine rotation speed N is, the more the CPU 31 reduces the position change amount Δ2. Accordingly, the CPU 31 calculates the tentative position change amount Δ1 by the following expression (3). A coefficient K3 is appropriately determined.



[0067] Next, similarly to the calculation method in step S107, the CPU 31 calculates the position change amount Δ2 by correcting the calculated tentative position change amount Δ1 by the pitch angle P, from the expression (2). This is because the substantial angle of the tabs 21A and 21B with respect to the horizontal plane changes depending on the pitch angle P. It should be noted that in the expression (2), the CPU 31 may calculate the position change amount Δ2 in consideration of the propeller pitch. For example, the larger the propeller pitch is, the smaller the CPU 31 may correct the position change amount Δ2 so as to be. It should be noted that in the expression (3), the engine rotation speed N may be used instead of the vessel speed V. It should be noted that a positive value of each change amount means that the tab is to be moved downward.

[0068] Next, in step S205, the CPU 31 controls one of the trim tab actuators 22A and 22B, corresponding to the tab determined to be actuated in step 203 among the tabs 21A and 21B, to actuate (move downward) the determined tab by the position change amount Δ2. Due to this, one of the tabs 21A and 21B located on the same side as the steering direction is moved down, and hence the hull 13 is easily oriented in the steering direction, thereby assisting the steering operation of the steering wheel 18. In step S206, the CPU 31 executes other processing similar to that in step S109 of FIG. 4, and the flow of processing returns to step S201.

[0069] It should be noted that in step S203, as a special case, it is conceivable a case in which one of the tabs 21A and 21B located on the non-operation side of the steering wheel 18 has been positioned down. This corresponds to a case in which the steering is suddenly performed in the opposite direction immediately after the sudden steering, for example. In such a case, the CPU 31 may determine one the tabs 21A and 21B located on the non-operation side as the target to be actuated upward. Alternatively, the CPU 31 may determine one of the tabs 21A and 21B located on the same side as the operation direction of the steering wheel 18 as the target to be actuated downward, and further determine the tab located on the non-operation side as the target to be actuated upward. The position change amounts for the upward actuation and the downward actuation in this case may be determined such that the sum of the absolute value of the position change amount for the upward actuation and the absolute value of the position change amount for the downward actuation matches the position change amount Δ2 (which are prorated with an appropriate ratio).

[0070] According to the second embodiment, when an instruction given through the steering wheel 18 at a faster operation speed than a predetermined operation speed, the CPU 31 determines the tab to be actuated among the tabs 21A and 21B on the basis of the direction of a change in movement of the hull 13 instructed by the steering instruction, and controls one of the trim tab actuators 22A and 22B corresponding to the determined tab so as to change the position of the determined tab (first control). This allows the steering operation of the steering wheel 18 to be assisted when necessary. In addition, the posture control of the hull 13 can be stabilized by preventing the reaction from becoming hypersensitive to a minute operation of the steering wheel 18. The CPU 31 preferably determines one of the tabs 21A and 21B located on the same side as the direction of a change in movement of the hull 13 instructed by the steering instruction, as the tab to be actuated downward, and controls one of the trim tab actuators 22A and 22B corresponding to the determined tab so as to move the determined tab downward. In accordance with the driver's intention to change the course quickly, the tabs 21A and 21B assist the steering operation of the steering wheel 18, and hence the operation force necessary to operate the steering wheel 18 becomes small.

[0071] In addition, the position change amount Δ2 is determined on the basis of the operation speed stV, either the speed V of the hull 13 or the engine rotation speed N, and the pitch angle P, and it is hence possible to assist the steering operation of an appropriate degree.

[0072] From the point of view of simplifying the processing, in the first and second embodiments, the position change amount Δ2 calculated in steps S107 and S204 may be a predetermined fixed amount.

[0073] It should be noted that in the first and second embodiments, a correction mode described below may be incorporated in the trim tab control processing (FIG. 4 and FIG. 5). That is, even during execution of the correction mode, the CPU 31 may execute the first control of changing the positions of the tabs 21A and 21B in response to acquisition of a steering instruction (or acquisition of a steering instruction given through the steering wheel 18 at a faster operation speed than a predetermined operation speed). First, a description is given of an example in which the correction mode is executed in the first embodiment.

[0074] FIG. 6 is a part of a flowchart of the trim tab control processing. The processing of steps S301 to S303 is executed immediately before step S101 of FIG. 4, for example. In step S301, the CPU 31 determines whether or not the correction mode has been set. The correction mode is a mode in which, when the roll angle exceeds a certain angle during turning of the hull 13, the CPU 31 performs roll correction so that the roll angle approaches the certain angle, where the certain angle is formed by the direction of the resultant force of the centrifugal force and gravity with a direction of gravity. That is, the CPU 31 controls the trim tab actuators 21A and 22B to actuate the tabs 21A and 22B so as to make the roll angle approach the certain angle (second control). The CPU 31 as a roll angle acquisition unit acquires the roll angle from an output signal of the posture sensor 38. The correction mode is set by an operation of the setting operation unit 19 by the user, for example.

[0075] As a result of the determination in step S301, the CPU 31 proceeds with the processing to step S101 of FIG. 4 if the correction mode has not been set. On the other hand, if the correction mode has been set, the CPU 31 determines whether or not the hull 13 is in the middle of turning on the basis of the output signal of the posture sensor 38. Then, the CPU 31 proceeds with the processing to step S101 if the hull 13 is not in the middle of turning. On the other hand, if the hull 13 is in the middle of turning, the correction mode is executed in step S303. That is, when the roll angle exceeds the angle formed by the direction of the resultant force of the centrifugal force and gravity with the direction of gravity, the trim tab actuators 22A and 22B are controlled so as to actuate the tabs 21A and 21B so that the roll angle approaches the certain angle.

[0076] An example of the roll correction will be described with an example of a control of moving the tab 21A or the tab 21B up. The CPU 31 controls the trim tab actuators 22A and 22B on the basis of the roll angle, either the speed V of the hull 13 or the engine rotation speed N, and the pitch angle P. Let the difference between the roll angle and the angle formed by the direction of the resultant force of the centrifugal force and gravity with a direction of gravity be D2. The CPU 31 calculates a tentative correction amount RC1 from the following expression (4). Coefficients K4 and K5 are appropriately determined.



[0077] Next, the CPU 31 calculates a correction amount RC2 by correcting the calculated tentative correction amount RC1 by the pitch angle P, from the following expression (5). It should be noted that a positive value of each correction amount means that the tab is to be moved downward.



[0078] This is because the substantial angle of the tabs 21A and 21B with respect to the horizontal plane changes depending on the pitch angle P. It should be noted that in the expression (4), the engine rotation speed N may be used instead of the vessel speed V.

[0079] After step S303, the CPU 31 proceeds with the processing to step S101 of FIG. 4. In the subsequent step S107, the CPU 31 determines a value obtained by adding the correction amount RC2 calculated in step S303 to the change amount Δ2 calculated in the expression (2), as the position change amount Δ2 to be used in step S108. Accordingly, as for actuation of the tabs 21A and 21B, if there is an operation of the steering wheel 18 satisfying the predetermined condition, the actuation based on the operation and the actuation by the correction mode are performed in parallel. In addition, if there is no operation of the steering wheel 18 during turning of the hull 13, the correction mode is independently performed.

[0080] According to the second embodiment, even during execution of the correction mode, the CPU 31 executes the first control in which the position of a tab to be actuated among the tabs 21A and 21B are changed in response to a steering operation. This allows the steering operation of the steering wheel 18 to be assisted even during execution of the roll correction at the time of turning of the hull 13.

[0081] It should be noted that the correction mode may be executed in the second embodiment. In this case, the processing of steps S301 to S303 is executed immediately before step S201 of FIG. 5, for example. Accordingly, as for actuation of the tabs 21A and 21B, if there is a fast steering operation, the actuation based on the operation and the actuation by the correction mode are performed in parallel. In addition, if there is no fast steering operation during turning of the hull 13, the correction mode is independently executed. This allows the fast steering operation of the steering wheel 18 to be assisted even during execution of the roll correction at the time of turning of the hull 13.

Third Embodiment



[0082] Next, a description is given of the third embodiment. The third embodiment is different from the first embodiment in that instead of the trim tab control processing, a steering control including the trim tab control is executed, and the other configurations are the same.

[0083] FIG. 7 is a flowchart of the steering control processing. The execution subject and the start condition of this processing are the same as those of the trim tab control processing shown in FIG. 4. The third embodiment has a first mode and a second mode as a steering mode of the hull 13. The first mode is a normal steering mode in which the outboard motor 15 is controlled (to rotate about the rotation center C2) according to a steering instruction. The second mode is an emergency steering mode in which the trim tab actuators 22A and 22B are controlled according to a steering instruction. The steering mode is set by an operation of the setting operation unit 19 by the user, for example. By using the fact that the travel direction of the hull 13 changes when any one of the tabs 21A and 21B moves down, the CPU 31 controls, in the second mode, the direction in which the hull 13 moves by the control of the tabs 21A and 21B without controlling the outboard motor 15 for steering.

[0084] First, in step S401, the CPU 31 determines whether or not the first mode has been set. Then, the CPU 31 proceeds with the processing to step S402 if the first mode has been set, and proceeds with the processing to step S403 if the first mode has not been set because the second mode has been set.

[0085] In step S402, the CPU 31 controls the direction in which the hull 13 moves by controlling the outboard motor 15 in the first mode. That is, the CPU 31 controls the outboard motor 15 by rotating the outboard motor 15 about the rotation center C2 in response to the operation of the steering wheel 18, to control the direction in which the hull 13 moves.

[0086] On the other hand, in step S403, the CPU 31 controls the direction in which the hull 13 moves by controlling the trim tab units 20A and 20B according to the operation of the steering wheel 18 in the second mode. Specifically, the CPU 31 first determines one of tabs 21A and 21B located on the same side as the operation direction of the steering wheel 18 as the tab to be actuated. Furthermore, the CPU 31 determines the actuation amount of the tab determined to actuated, in accordance with the operation amount of the steering wheel 18. The operation amount is acquired from a change in the output signal of the steering angle sensor 35, for example. For example, the operation amount is acquired as a change amount from the end of the last actuation. Then, the CPU 31 controls one of the trim tab actuators 22A and 22B corresponding to the determined tab so as to actuate the determined tab by the determined actuation amount.

[0087] After steps S402 and S403, the CPU 31 executes, in step S404, other processing as in step S109. Next, in step S405, the CPU 31 determines whether or not an abnormality has occurred in a vessel maneuvering system of the outboard motor 15. The abnormality in the vessel maneuvering system of the outboard motor 15 described here is a case in which the outboard motor 15 does not normally rotate about the rotation center C2 in accordance with the operation of the steering wheel 18 and includes a case in which the steering by the outboard motor 15 does not work at all. That is, the CPU 31 determines whether or not an abnormality that the direction in which the hull 13 moves is not controlled with the steering wheel 18 according to a steering instruction, has occurred. The CPU 31 compares, for example, the change amount of the rotation position corresponding to a command based on the operation of the steering wheel 18 with the change amount of the rotation position of the outboard motor 15 about the rotation center C2, and determines that an abnormality has occurred if the difference between the two is equal to or greater than a predetermined value. Alternatively, the CPU 31 may determine that an abnormality has occurred when receiving an abnormality signal from any of the actuation systems.

[0088] If there is no abnormality in the vessel maneuvering system of the outboard motor 15 found as a result of the determination in step S405, the CPU 31 returns the processing to step S401. If there is an abnormality in the vessel maneuvering system of the outboard motor 15, the CPU 31 determines in step S406 whether or not the current steering mode is the first mode. Then, if the current steering mode is not the first mode, the CPU 31 proceeds with the processing to step S403. However, if the current steering mode is the first mode, the CPU 31 switches in step S407 the steering mode from the first mode to the second mode, and proceeds with the processing to step S403.

[0089] If the engine 16 rotates and the propeller is rotatable, the driver can change the direction in which the hull 13 moves as desired by operating the steering wheel 18 to cause the actuation of the tabs 21A and 21B.

[0090] According to the third embodiment, the CPU 31 switches the first mode to the second mode when determining that an abnormality that the direction in which the hull 13 moves is not controlled with the outboard motor 15 according to a steering instruction, has occurred in the first mode. This allows the steering operation of the steering wheel 18 to be assisted where necessary. Even in a case of being not steered by the outboard motor 15 at all it is possible for a marine vessel to return to the port by the steering operation in the second mode. This is particularly effective in a marine vessel having only one outboard motor 15.

[0091] In the above embodiments, the steering wheel 18 is exemplified as a steering control, but the steering control is not limited to this, and a joystick, for example, may be used.

[0092] It should be noted that interceptor tabs may be used as a substitute for the tabs 21A and 21B. Each interceptor tab in the water changes its position from a position at which it projects from a bottom surface (vessel's bottom) of the hull 13 to a position which is above the bottom surface of the hull 13 and at which it is retracted.

[0093] It should be noted that the number of the outboard motor 15 may be one or three or more. In addition, the number of the trim tab unit may be three or more.

[0094] It should be noted that the marine vessel according to each of the first and second embodiments is not limited to a marine vessel including an outboard motor, and may be any marine vessel including a propulsion device capable of changing the trim angle. Accordingly, the marine vessel may be equipped with an inboard and outboard motor (sterndrive or inboard/outboard drive). In addition, the marine vessel according to the third embodiment may be a marine vessel including another form of marine propulsion device such as an inboard and outboard motor, an inboard motor, and a water jet drive.

[0095] According to a further specific independent aspect (1), it is provided a method for controlling posture control tabs 21A, 21B of a marine vessel 11, the marine vessel 11 including a steering control configured to give instructions for controlling a direction in which a hull 13 moves, a port-side posture control tab 21A and a starboard-side posture control tab 21B mounted on a port side and a starboard side of a stern of the hull 13, configured to be movably up or down to control a posture of the hull 13, and a port-side actuator 22A and a starboard-side actuator 22B configured to respectively actuate the port-side posture control tab 21A and the starboard-side posture control tab 21B, the method comprising:

acquiring a steering instruction given through the steering control; and

upon acquiring the steering instruction given through the steering control at a faster operation speed than a predetermined operation speed, executing first control to determine a posture control tab to be actuated among the port-side posture control tab 21A and the starboard-side posture control tab 21B, on a basis of a direction of a change in movement of the hull 13 instructed by the steering instruction, and

control one of the port-side actuator 22A and the starboard-side actuator 22B corresponding to the determined posture control tab so as to change a position of the determined posture control tab.



[0096] Said specific independent aspect (1) further comprises (2), upon acquiring the steering instruction given through the steering control at a faster operation speed than the predetermined operation speed,
determining one of the port-side posture control tab 21A and the starboard-side posture control tab 21B, located on a same side as a direction of a change in movement of the hull 13 instructed by the steering instruction, as a posture control tab to be actuated downward, and
controlling one of the port-side actuator 22A and the starboard-side actuator 22B corresponding to the determined posture control tab so as to move the determined posture control tab downward.

[0097] The method for controlling posture control tabs 21A, 21B of a marine vessel 11 according to the aspect (1) or (2) as indicated above, further comprises (3)
determining a change amount of a position of the determined posture control tab, on a basis of an operation speed of the steering control corresponding to the acquired steering instruction, either a speed of the hull (13) or a number of revolutions of an engine of the propulsion device (15), and a pitch angle of the hull (13).

[0098] The method for controlling posture control tabs 21A, 21B of a marine vessel 11 according to the at least one of the aspects (1) to (3) as indicated above, further comprises (4)
acquiring a roll angle of the hull 13,
wherein a correction mode is provided of executing a second control to, upon the roll angle acquired by the roll angle acquisition unit 31 exceeding a certain angle during turning of the hull 13, the certain angle being formed by a direction of a resultant force of a centrifugal force and gravity with a direction of gravity, control the port-side actuator 22A and the starboard-side actuator 22B to actuate the port-side posture control tab 21A and the starboard-side posture control tab 21B so as to make the roll angle approach the certain angle, and
executing the first control upon acquiring the steering instruction during execution of the correction mode.

[0099] The method for controlling posture control tabs 21A, 21B of a marine vessel 11 according to the aspect (4) as indicated above, further comprises (5), in execution of the second control in the correction mode, controlling the port-side actuator 22A and the starboard-side actuator 22B on a basis of the acquired roll angle, either a speed of the hull 13 or a number of revolutions of an engine of the propulsion device 15, and a pitch angle of the hull 13.

[0100] According to a further specific independent aspect (6), it is provided a control system for controlling posture control tabs 21A, 21B of a marine vessel 11, comprising:

a port-side posture control tab 21A and a starboard-side posture control tab 21B, mounted on a port side and a starboard side of a stern of a hull 13, movably up or down to control a posture of the hull 13;

a port-side actuator 22A and a starboard-side actuator 22B configured to respectively actuate the port-side posture control tab 21A and the starboard-side posture control tab 21B;

an instruction acquisition unit 31 configured to acquire a steering instruction given through a steering control that gives instructions for controlling a direction in which the hull 13 moves; and

a controller 30 configured or programmed to carry out the method for controlling posture control tabs 21A, 21B of a marine vessel 11 according to at least one of the aspects (1) to (5) as indicated above.



[0101] The control system for controlling posture control tabs 21A, 21B according to the aspect (6) as indicated above further comprising (7):
a roll angle acquisition unit 31 configured to acquire a roll angle of the hull 13.

[0102] According to a further specific independent aspect (8), it is provided a marine vessel 11 comprising:

a hull 13;

a steering control that gives instructions for controlling a direction in which the hull 13 moves; and

a control system for controlling posture control tabs 21A, 21B according to the aspect (6) or (7) as indicated above.



[0103] According to a further specific independent aspect (9) it is provided a method for controlling posture control tabs 21A, 21B of a marine vessel 11, the marine vessel 11 including a steering control that gives instructions for controlling a direction in which a hull 13 moves, a propulsion device 15 that generates a propulsive force to move the hull 13, a port-side posture control tab 21A and a starboard-side posture control tab 21B mounted on a port side and a starboard side of a stern of the hull 13, configured to be movably up or down to control a posture of the hull 13, and a port-side actuator 22A and a starboard-side actuator 22B configured to respectively actuate the port-side posture control tab 21A and the starboard-side posture control tab 21B, the method comprising:

acquiring a steering instruction given through the steering control;

in a first steering mode, controlling the propulsion device 15 according to the acquired steering instruction, to control a direction in which the hull 13 moves;

in a second steering mode, controlling the port-side actuator 22A and the starboard-side actuator 22B according to the acquired steering instruction;

determining, in the first steering mode, whether or not an abnormality that the direction in which the hull 13 moves is not controlled with the propulsion device 15 according to the steering instruction, has occurred; and

upon determining that the abnormality has occurred, switching from the first steering mode to the second steering mode.



[0104] Said specific independent aspect (9) further comprises (10) in the second steering mode,
determining one of the port-side posture control tab (21A) and the starboard-side posture control tab 21B, located on a same side as a direction of a change in movement of the hull 13 instructed by the steering instruction, as a posture control tab to be actuated downward, and
controlling one of the port-side actuator 22A and a starboard-side actuator (22B) corresponding to the determined posture control tab so as to move the determined posture control tab downward.

[0105] The method for controlling posture control tabs 21A, 21B of a marine vessel 11 according to the aspect (9) or (10) as indicated above, further comprises (11) in the second steering mode, determines an amount of actuation of the determined posture control tab, according to an operation amount of the steering control.

[0106] According to a further specific independent aspect (12), it is provided a control system for controlling posture control tabs 21A, 21B of a marine vessel 11, comprising:

a port-side posture control tab 21A and a starboard-side posture control tab 21B, mounted on a port side and a starboard side of a stern of a hull 13, movably up or down to control a posture of the hull 13;

a port-side actuator 22A and a starboard-side actuator 22B configured to respectively actuate the port-side posture control tab 21A and the starboard-side posture control tab 21B;

an instruction acquisition unit 31 configured to acquire a steering instruction given through a steering control that gives instructions for controlling a direction in which the hull 13 moves; and

a controller 30 configured or programmed to carry out the method for controlling posture control tabs 21A, 21B of a marine vessel 11 according to at least one of the aspects (9) to (11) as indicated above.



[0107] According to a further specific independent aspect (13), it is provided a marine vessel 11 comprising:

a hull 13;

a steering control that gives instructions for controlling a direction in which the hull 13 moves; a propulsion device 15 that generates a propulsive force to move the hull 13; and

a control system for controlling posture control tabs 21A, 21B according to the aspect (12) as indicated above.




Claims

1. A method for controlling posture control tabs (21A, 21B) of a marine vessel (11), the marine vessel (11) including a steering control configured to give instructions for controlling a direction in which a hull (13) of the marine vessel (11) moves, a propulsion device (15) configured to generate a propulsive force to move the hull (13), a port-side posture control tab (21A) and a starboard-side posture control tab (21B) mounted on a port side and a starboard side of a stern of the hull (13), configured to be movably up or down to control a posture of the hull (13), and a port-side actuator (22A) and a starboard-side actuator (22B) configured to respectively actuate the port-side posture control tab (21A) and the starboard-side posture control tab (21B), the method comprising:

acquiring a steering instruction given through the steering control;

acquiring a trim position of the propulsion device (15); and

upon acquiring the steering instruction, executing first control to

determine a posture control tab to be actuated among the port-side posture control tab (21A) and the starboard-side posture control tab (21B), on a basis of the acquired trim position, and

control one of the port-side actuator (22A) and the starboard-side actuator (22B) corresponding to the determined posture control tab so as to change a position of the determined posture control tab.


 
2. The method for controlling posture control tabs (21A, 21B) of a marine vessel (11) according to claim 1, further comprises
upon acquiring the steering instruction,

determining a posture control tab to be actuated among the port-side posture control tab (21A) and the starboard-side posture control tab (21B), on a basis of the trim position and a pitch angle of the hull (13), and

controlling one of the port-side actuator (22A) and the starboard-side actuator (22B) corresponding to the determined posture control tab so as to change a position of the determined posture control tab.


 
3. The method for controlling posture control tabs (21A, 21B) of a marine vessel (11) according to claim 2, further comprises
determining, on a basis of the trim position and the pitch angle of the hull (13), an operation direction of the steering control in which an operation force necessary to operate the steering control becomes large, among a direction of right turning of the hull (13) and a direction of left turning of the hull (13), and
in a case where a direction of a change in movement of the hull (13) instructed by the steering instruction agrees with the determined operation direction, determining one of the port-side posture control tab (21A) and the starboard-side posture control tab (21B), located on a same side as the determined operation direction, as a posture control tab to be actuated downward, and
controlling one of the port-side actuator (22A) and a starboard-side actuator (22B) corresponding to the determined posture control tab so as to move the determined posture control tab downward.
 
4. The method for controlling posture control tabs (21A, 21B) of a marine vessel (11) according to claim 2 or 3, further comprises
determining, on a basis of the trim position and the pitch angle of the hull (13), an operation direction of the steering control in which an operation force necessary to operate the steering control becomes large, among a direction of right turning of the hull (13) and a direction of left turning of the hull (13), and
in a case where a direction of a change in movement of the hull (13) instructed by the steering instruction does not agree with the determined operation direction and one of the port-side posture control tab (21A) and the starboard-side posture control tab (21B), located on an opposite side to the direction instructed by the steering instruction, is positioned down, determining the one of the port-side posture control tab (21A) and the starboard-side posture control tab (21B), located on the opposite side, as a posture control tab to be actuated upward, and
controlling one of the port-side actuator (22A) and a starboard-side actuator (22B) corresponding to the determined posture control tab so as to move the determined posture control tab upward.
 
5. The method for controlling posture control tabs (21A, 21B) of a marine vessel (11) according to at least one of the claims 1 to 4, further comprises determining a change amount of a position of the determined posture control tab, on a basis of the trim position, either a speed of the hull (13) or a number of revolutions of an engine of the propulsion device (15), and a pitch angle of the hull (13).
 
6. The method for controlling posture control tabs (21A, 21B) of a marine vessel (11) according to at least one of the claims 1 to 5, further comprises executing the first control on a condition that at least one of an operation amount from a neutral position of the steering control being larger than a predetermined amount and an operation speed of the steering control being faster than a predetermined operation speed is satisfied.
 
7. The method for controlling posture control tabs (21A, 21B) of a marine vessel (11) according to at least one of the claims 1 to 6, further comprises acquiring a roll angle of the hull (13),
wherein a correction mode is provided of executing a second control to, upon the roll angle acquired by the roll angle acquisition unit (31) exceeding a certain angle during turning of the hull (13), the certain angle being formed by a direction of a resultant force of a centrifugal force and gravity with a direction of gravity, control the port-side actuator (22A) and the starboard-side actuator (22B) to actuate the port-side posture control tab (21A) and the starboard-side posture control tab (21B) so as to make the roll angle approach the certain angle, and
executing the first control upon acquiring the steering instruction during execution of the second control in the correction mode.
 
8. The method for controlling posture control tabs (21A, 21B) of a marine vessel (11) according to claim 7, further comprises, in execution of the second control in the correction mode, controlling the port-side actuator (22A) and the starboard-side actuator (22B) on a basis of the acquired roll angle, either a speed of the hull (13) or a number of revolutions of an engine of the propulsion device (15), and a pitch angle of the hull (13).
 
9. A control system for controlling posture control tabs (21A, 21B) configured to be mounted on a marine vessel (11), comprising:

a port-side posture control tab (21A) and a starboard-side posture control tab (21B), mounted on a port side and a starboard side of a stern of a hull (13), movably up or down to control a posture of the hull (13);

a port-side actuator (22A) and a starboard-side actuator (22B) configured to respectively actuate the port-side posture control tab (21A) and the starboard-side posture control tab (21B);

an instruction acquisition unit (31) configured to acquire a steering instruction given through a steering control that gives instructions for controlling a direction in which the hull (13) moves;

a trim position acquisition unit (31) configured to acquire a trim position of a propulsion device (15) that generates a propulsive force to move the hull (13); and

a controller (30) configured or programmed to carry out the method for controlling posture control tabs (21A, 21B) of a marine vessel (11) according to at least one of the claims 1 to 9.


 
10. The control system for controlling posture control tabs (21A, 21B) according to claim 9, further comprising:
a roll angle acquisition unit (31) configured to acquire a roll angle of the hull (13).
 
11. A marine vessel (11) comprising:

a hull (13);

a steering control configured to give instructions for controlling a direction in which the hull (13) moves;

a propulsion device (15) configured to generate a propulsive force to move the hull (13); and

a control system for controlling posture control tabs (21A, 21B) according claim 9 or 10.


 




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Cited references

REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description