NEWS — Volvo Penta does away with ship’s wheel

Volvo Penta Does Away With Ship's Wheel

Swedish marine propulsion and systems giant Volvo Penta has done away with the traditional ship’s wheel in its ideal helm of tomorrow. Instead, all steering will be handled by a joystick.

This is just part of Volvo Penta’s vision of a modern helm, on which it has started development work. And like an automobile it will integrate the engines, electrical systems and instruments to operate with a push of a single button, in a modularised and more user-friendly environment.

The joystick was introduced by Volvo Penta in the mid-2000s in tandem with its IPS azimuthing pod drives, but principally for berthing and slow-speed maneuvering.

In presenting the first outlines of how helm stations will be designed, the company has identified ergonomics and field of vision as two areas of the helm with the greatest potential for improvement. And for this work, it said, it is employing the advanced know-how available within other businesses in the Volvo Group, such as trucks, construction equipment, and buses.

Volvo said its other companies deliver products with professional driver environments placing heavy demands on safety, field of vision and ergonomics, where the seats, the controls and instruments are optimised in order to create the best possible conditions for the driver.

“There’s a lot of inspiration to be gathered from here for the boating industry as well,” says Anders Bondesson head of design at Volvo Penta, “and it’s only natural that we, in our role as supplier of the most important component of the boat’s energy system, are the ones pushing the fast technical developments of solutions that make life easier and safer for boatbuilders and boat owners alike.”

Volvo Penta said its vision is to deliver complete and ergonomically optimised modules, where the boat’s propulsion system is fully integrated with the navigation and communication instruments and all other electrical equipment onboard.

“Since the actual needs and the interior design differ so much between different boat types, we’ll never be able to design a driver environment that fits all boats, but we’ll be able to offer more standardised and intuitive solutions that take the driver’s needs into account much more than today,” says Bondesson.

Volvo Penta has no time plan for when the complete new driver environments will be ready for the market, but this year products such as Joystick Driving (no steering wheel) are launched. These products are important parts of the development towards increased integration between engine and instruments, it said.

“There are a lot of things going on in these areas and we want to take advantage of the new technology in order to create intuitive and user-friendly helm stations that make it possible for boaters to think less about navigation and the next docking and instead, with increased safety, enjoy their boating experience,” says Bondesson.