Since the introduction of the Inboard Performance System, better known by the acronym
IPS and the advancement of the EVC (Electronic Vessel Control), Volvo Penta has
been looking more like a software company than an engine company. We are all familiar
with the enhanced performance and increased maneuverability that POD drive systems
offer to even the novice captains, but remember that the concept is not new -- POD
drive systems have been driving commercial ships for several decades. What are new,
are the advancements in their operating controls.
The ability to navigate your
boat laterally with the tilt of the joystick is easy and safe.
Many boaters are not aware of all the elements that go into a successful and effective
POD drive system, but one element that is indispensable is the software and programming
behind it. More and more propulsion systems available for recreational boats these
days rely on software, and not just the kind of application we are used to seeing
with computer-aided design or electronic engine function displays.
This software must make hundreds of calculations a second, integrate with GPS enabled
components and communicate with and continuously update POD positioning and engine
output settings. Perfecting this software is no less a task than Microsoft or Apple
developing a new operating system.
Like a fly-by-wire aircraft, when you the boater interface with your boat through
the joystick, you are actually interfacing with a computer, which is determining
at what angle each pod should be positioned and what RPM setting will be optimal to
achieve the desired directional control being inputted by the operator. Over the last few years, we have taken for granted the achievement of this
and other systems like it given the extremely low number of anomalies and failures
This past week Volvo Penta announced the latest evolution in recreational vessel
control which they call The Dynamic Positioning System. Now we should not look at
this Dynamic Positioning System as a “new” system or component, since in reality, it is a product of the
ongoing evolution in software based around IPS and EVC.
The Dynamic Positioning System is controlled by software that integrates with Volvo Penta’s electronic
platform, EVC. In effect, it holds your boat stationary at a point on the water
through GPS coordination with the IPS system. A special antenna with double GPS
receivers supplies the system with exact information on the boat’s position. With
the help of this information, the software controls engine revs, shift positions
and the pods. The Dynamic Positioning System is activated by pressing a button on
the joystick. Volvo Penta has also made a new 7” color display part of this system
where the driver can have full situational awareness of his vessel and the status
of the system. Volvo Penta also makes that point that when a vessel is functioning
in Dynamic Positioning System mode, the engines are running and the props are turning so it is still considered
“underway” and therefore you should always have an operator at the helm. For those
of you wondering how you get this system, we are told it will be available as an
option for all IPS diesel systems on 2010 models.
You can compare performance of the IPS500 on ten different models and boat types
as well as research all the IPS system in our Volvo Penta section which is one of
the largest databases of tested Volvo Penta power. Throttle forward here --
more about IPS