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1. (WO2014210332) WATERCRAFT DOCKING SYSTEMS AND METHODS OF THEIR OPERATION
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What is claimed is:

1. A system for securing a watercraft to a dock, the system comprising:

a first sensor for automatically detecting a securing point to which to dock the watercraft;

an extendable arm with a cable inside, the cable having a proximal end for mounting to the watercraft; and

a grasping element mounted to a distal end of the cable and configured to reversibly engage the securing point.

2. The system of claim 1 , wherein the system is configured for installation on the watercraft.

3. The system of claim 1 , wherein the extendable arm comprises a plurality of concentric telescoping elements.

4. The system of claim 3, wherein the plurality of concentric telescoping elements are operated hydraulically, pneumatically, or electrically.

5. The system of claim 1 , further comprising:

a tower for indirectly coupling the proximal end of the cable to the watercraft, wherein the tower comprises an interior space for housing components that control movement of the extendable arm.

6. The system of claim 5, wherein the tower is configured to be rotatably mounted to the watercraft.

7. The system of claim 1 , further comprising a light source.

9. The system of claim 1 , further comprising:

a second sensor for detecting engagement of the securing point by the grasping element.

10. A method for securing a watercraft to a dock, the method comprising:

automatically detecting a securing point on the dock;

extending an arm from the watercraft toward the securing point, wherein the arm houses a cable having a proximal end mounted to the watercraft; and

reversibly engaging the securing point using a grasping element mounted to a distal end of the cable.

11. The method of claim 10, further comprising:

automatically detecting that visibility on the dock is limited; and

automatically activating a light source mounted to the watercraft prior to the automatically detecting.

12. The method of claim 11 , wherein the automatically detecting comprises:

scanning a plurality of objects on the dock for the securing point; and

ignoring those of the plurality of objects that cannot be used as the securing point.

13. The method of claim 11 , wherein the reversibly engaging comprises:

grasping the securing point using the grasping element; and

retracting the arm, thereby pulling the watercraft toward the dock.

14. The method of claim 13, further comprising:

monitoring a distance between the watercraft and the dock during the retracting; and

automatically reducing a speed of the retracting in response to the monitoring.

15. The method of claim 11 , wherein the extending comprises:

tracking a position of the securing point; and

guiding the arm toward the securing point in accordance with the tracking.

16. A computer readable storage medium containing an executable program for securing a watercraft to a dock, where the program performs steps of:

automatically detecting a securing point on the dock;

extending an arm from the watercraft toward the securing point, wherein the arm houses a cable having a proximal end mounted to the watercraft; and

reversibly engaging the securing point using a grasping element mounted to a distal end of the cable.

17. The computer readable storage medium of claim 16, wherein the reversibly engaging comprises:

grasping the securing point using the grasping element; and

retracting the arm, thereby pulling the watercraft toward the dock.

18. The computer readable storage medium of claim 17, wherein the steps further comprise:

monitoring a distance between the watercraft and the dock during the retracting; and

automatically reducing a speed of the retracting in response to the monitoring.

19. The computer readable storage medium of claim 16, wherein the extending comprises:

tracking a position of the securing point; and

guiding the arm toward the securing point in accordance with the tracking.

20. The computer readable storage medium of claim 16, wherein the automatically detecting comprises:

scanning a plurality of objects on the dock for the securing point; and

ignoring those of the plurality of objects that cannot be used as the securing point.