Marine vessels, including wind-powered yachts, are continually required to be able to operate with properties of being more reliable, comfortable and economical. Recently, the global economic integration has intensified worldwide competition and increased the demand for sea freights. This demand has stimulated the development of marine vessels which are larger, faster and safer. The crisis of non-renewable energy and its steady increase in price leads to higher requirements of energy efficiency by marine vessels. This increased awareness of protecting the environment has ensured that there are now stricter standards in controlling ocean pollutions hence it leads to more demands on marine vessel control.
These increases in performance and fuel saving can be achieved through incorporating advanced control technologies. Adaptive and artificial intelligent control strategies, by connecting to the dynamics of a marine vessel, enable the vessel to follow an optimal course or track with minimum rudder action, resulting in collision avoidance and energy saving. Smaller marine vessels such as yachts are often powerless against sea conditions, hence advanced control algorithms combined with modern guidance technology such as global positioning system (GPS), increase the safety of the navigation. As a consequence, the autopilot system which integrates the electronic hardware and the control algorithms has become standard use for commercial and military marine vessels, and is becoming essential equipment for smaller marine vessels such as leisure boats and yachts.