By John Armstrong

I was delighted to be invited to Gothenberg, Sweden at the end of June where Volvo Penta hosted an exclusive new product media introduction with a careful selection of  approximately 50 marine journalists from 14 different countries including Argentina and Brazil from South America. There were just three journalists from North America, and I was the only one from Canada – very flattering!

Volvo Penta has earned a great reputation for marine engines and drive trains but in fact, electronic advances were behind some of the most impressive developments they showed us in Sweden.

Among the new products, I was perhaps most taken with the new Glass Cockpit System, which provides centralized control and monitoring of the boat’s engines and drives, integrated with navigation, steering and alarm systems.
The new Volvo Penta Glass Cockpit System is an all-integrated control and monitoring system that gathers all driver information – including warnings and alarms – and displays it on one or more, high-tech displays. It enables a common, ergonomic design – and interface – for the whole dashboard, with push-buttons on the controls and touch-buttons on the screens.
“The Volvo Penta Glass Cockpit gives the boat operator a similar experience to driving a modern automobile,” said Marcia Kull, Vice President, Marine Sales North America, Volvo Penta of the Americas. “The driver environment in cars is similar regardless of the car brand. A driver pushes a button with confidence that it all will work. In the boating world, it has not been quite as easy – until now. With the launch of the new Glass Cockpit System, Volvo Penta is fundamentally changing the design of the boat driver’s environment.”
“The result is a greatly enhanced overview and control of both navigation and engine, all in one place,” said Kull. “It also provides a cleaner dashboard, which makes it easier for the driver to concentrate on what’s important at the moment.”
A Cooperation with Garmin
The Glass Cockpit System is a result of cooperation between Volvo Penta and Garmin. “By combining the two companies’ expertise, Volvo Penta software and the new Garmin 8000 display series, Volvo Penta is now able to introduce this revolution in driver environment design,” said Kull.
The displays are easy and intuitive to handle, with touch and pinch-to-zoom functionality. The driver decides what functions should be displayed on the screens and how they should be distributed. Depending on boat type and size, one or more displays can be mounted on the dashboard. The screens are available in different sizes from 8 to 19”.
Fully Integrated with the EVC
The Glass Cockpit System is fully integrated with the Volvo Penta Electronic Vessel Control (EVC). That means that all Volvo Penta easy boating options such as dynamic positioning system, interceptors and autopilot can be monitored and controlled through the displays.
When the boat is powered up, all screens light up simultaneously, in a car-like manner. All settings that are made, including instrument dimming, are carried out concurrently at the helm and the fly bridge.

Making things easier for the boat driver and, at the same time, enhancing on-board safety and comfort were fundamental objectives for Volvo Penta when developing these new systems.

With the many years I worked as a boat broker and dealer, I saw first-hand how important trim tabs can be and how few boaters really understood how to get the most out of these simple but valuable performance enhancements.

So, in line with Volvo Penta’s Easy Boating concept, the company introduced us to the Interceptor System – or just “IS”.

The Volvo Penta Interceptor System is a fully electrical system (no hydraulics) with powerful servos that is integrated into Volvo Penta’s electronic platform, EVC. The trim blades generate lift and drag that translates into moments on the boat in all three axis depending on action. That means that the boat’s attitude can be adjusted in all directions to greatly enhance boat performance and economy and just as important, enhance onboard comfort.

Then there is the unique Auto Guidance function, another useful feature in the Glass Cockpit System. By searching through all relevant nautical charts, it creates a route that guides the driver to avoid shallow water, buoys and other obstacles. Coupled with the Volvo Penta autopilot, Auto Guidance will not only show the way, it will actually take the boat there!

So, now all the engine functions are displayed as the driver prefers, the boat trims itself automatically for maximum performance, the Auto Guidance function can plan your best or safest route and the whole system is displayed on Garmin’s new 8000 series screens with all their touch and pinch to zoom functions. It’s almost as simple as your car!

Driving the Volvo Penta demonstration boats with these systems was a real eye-opener for me. I never realized how easy and comfortable it could be to run a big yacht. This really opens up some opportunities!

Photo Captions
Photo 1: The Garmin 8000 series screens, shown here with a split-screen display, are a big part of these new logical, safe and ergonomic dashboard designs.
Photo 2 and 3:“The Volvo Penta Glass Cockpit gives the boat operator a similar experience to driving a modern automobile,” said Marcia Kull, Vice President, Marine Sales North America, Volvo Penta of the Americas.