A Groovy Refinement
When Volvo Penta introduced its dynamic positioning system (Volvo calls it DGPS) a couple of years ago, a related development got little publicity—a software upgrade that, in league with a revamped IPS transmission, significantly smoothified the station-keeping that DGPS facilitates. The point of this software/tranny revamp was to reduce the turbulence and herky-jerkiness that can sometimes accompany pod-type maneuvering, particularly where all-or-nothing clutches—with little or no ability to slip and thereby produce very nuanced rates of prop rotation—are involved. Volvo’s engineers wanted DGPS to maintain heading and position with unrivalled decorum and, to accomplish this, they hit upon some new, groovy, and proprietary material for clutch plates. Said material manages to slip by precisely programmed degrees but also lock up solidly once an operator puts the hammer down.
The development was a serendipitous one. The new Low Speed feature it facilitated not only enhanced computerized station keeping, it enhanced joystick maneuvering as well. Indeed, after pushing the Low Speed button on our Regal’s binnacle-type engine control (with the joystick function already energized via the Docking Mode button at the base of the joystick), I found close-quarters maneuvering was extraordinarily smooth. Movements were steady, deliberate, and never over-reactive.
The Low Speed feature is roughly analogous to conventional trolling valves, by the way, does similar duty where a slow bell is required (in harbors and marinas), and at the present time is available on Volvo Penta’s IPS units as well as other types of powerplants.
Volvo Penta of the Americas
This article originally appeared in the December 2012 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.