Volvo Penta’s new IPS joystick controller for boats
By Mike Hanlon
February 25, 2006
February 26, 2006 Old school thinking has a distinct ring to it. “If it aint broke, don’t fix it” and “It’s always been done that way for a very good reason” are the catchcries of an era long-since-past. Once upon a time, ships and boats were pushed through the water by a fixed screw propeller and steered by a rudder. Now Volvo Penta has released a new system it has dubbed the Inboard Performance System (IPS) system and turned the whole industry on its ear. With double forward-facing propellers and steerable drive units, boats equipped with the Volvo Penta IPS are significantly better than boats with traditional inboard shafts in virtually all respects: comfort, performance, environmental features and driving characteristics. Since its introduction last year, the Volvo Penta IPS has received prizes and awards throughout the world but time stands still for no man and now there’s a new enhancement that will look strangely familiar to computer gamers - a joystick. Even the most experienced boat-owners can sometimes feel uncomfortable about the prospect of docking a large boat in a congested harbour, especially if the dockside is filled with spectators! Volvo Penta’s new IPS Joystick eliminates that problem. With just a few simple hand movements, you can place your boat elegantly against the dock.
With the new joystick from Volvo Penta, manoeuvring and docking are made significantly easier – and safer! Volvo Penta began experimenting with different joystick-based solutions as early as the beginning of the 1990s. However, it was not until the introduction of the new Volvo Penta IPS drive system that an efficiently functioning joystick solution became possible.
The Volvo Penta IPS Joystick utilizes the system’s diesel engine and drive units. This provides exceptionally high power and manoeuvring performance and significantly greater side thrust, compared with conventional bow thrusters.
“The power is available for all types of low-speed manoeuvres, even in tough conditions, with high winds and strong currents. The Volvo Penta IPS Joystick has no time limitations; the boat driver can manoeuvre uninterruptedly as long as there is diesel in the tank. We have limited the engine speed to reduce the power of the manoeuvres and to ensure that the boat doesn’t start to plane when being manoeuvred forwards. In the event of additional power being needed, there is also a booster function to increase the engine’s sideways thrust,” notes Anders Thorin, Project leader at Volvo Penta. The driver only needs to push the joystick in the direction he or she wants the boat to go. The brain behind the manoeuvres is the EVC system, which transforms the driver’s joystick commands into specific throttle, gear and steering instructions.
“When the drive units point toward each other and the one goes forward and the other backward, the boat then moves in a sideways direction. That is the principle upon which the joystick control works. But to enable this to be carried out with the necessary precision and to instantaneously interpret the driver’s commands, extensive programming and testing is required,” underlines Anders Thorin.
The joystick function can rapidly and simply be neutralized by pressing the connection button. The function is also immediately neutralized by the driver turning the steering wheel or touching the throttle or gear levers.
The Volvo Penta IPS Joystick can be installed on all boats equipped with Volvo Penta IPS, also as retrofit. Installation is exceptionally simple. The joystick is mounted in a suitable position and connected to the EVC system, into which new a software program is installed.
The joystick is ergonomically designed, with recessed push-buttons, to prevent the system from being activated by mistake. The unit is splash-proof and can be permanently mounted externally. Up to four control stations can be furnished with joysticks. Since no additional equipment needs to be installed, there are no additional service requirements, apart from the traditional servicing of engine and drive units.
Delivery of the Volvo Penta IPS Joystick to end users will commence in August 2006.