Volvo Penta’s Electric Driver Interface Undergoes Sea Trial

Volvo Penta, in an effort to aid the shift into electric boating, is working on an electric driver interface within the company’s Glass Cockpit System to make electric boating easy. The company, known for developing the first marine Diesel engine in 1907, invited boat captains, OEMs, dealers and others to La Rochelle, France to work with and test the prototype user interface in a real world experience on an electric catamaran.

“The electric driver interface was first revealed onboard the catamaran with our electric saildrive concept in Cannes, where we received initial, high-level input from media and customers,” Anna Lindgren, Director Marine Product Planning at Volvo Penta said in a statement release to the media. “The prototype is being designed for use across our marine electromobility platform, but testing it onboard the catamaran has provided a great chance for us to capture learnings and feedback easily. We need a lot of customer input at an early stage in order to find how to best design this interface.”

Because an electric propulsion drive system doesn’t have the same sounds or vibrations as an internal combustion engine and behaves differently as well, it was important for Volvo to gain feedback on an actual electric powered boat, in this case the catamaran. The company says that the hands-on testing provided valuable feedback on what features are crucial to the success of electric boating.

“We invited these customers – who had previously driven or been part of the development work with the electric catamaran– to hear their expectations and see their behaviors when driving this boat using the new electric interface,” Tobias Ångman, UX designer, Volvo Penta said. “Electric drivelines are very different from combustion engines; they don’t behave in the same way when it’s put into gear – you don’t have the sound or the vibrations – so other sources of information become important to the driver. This silent experience is very different, and we wanted to learn firsthand how users expect the interface to guide them at a glance when driving.”

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