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Consumer Electronics Show 2023: Volvo Penta unveils future concept of Boating for everyone

by AB Volvo Penta 5 Jan 2023 08:33 PST
A future that enables boating for everyone © Volvo Penta

Under the headline 'Boating for everyone', Volvo Penta will use this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas to imagine a brave new world for exploring and experiencing life on the water built around accessibility for all.

Through an immersive and visionary exhibit, visitors can get an exclusive look at how the company imagines the boating experience of tomorrow. Volvo Penta aims to kickstart a dialogue with CES attendees and online boating audiences on how to evolve boating together.

Volvo Penta is joining the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) live for the first time in 2023 and premiering a future-focused universe, where it will present ground-breaking thinking around a potential new leisure boating experience. This future boating experience will be more open and accessible than ever, designed to heighten people's emotional connection with the water and simultaneously advance sustainability.

Innovation is embedded in the DNA of Volvo Penta and the company has harnessed this with fast-moving technological advances to create a potential vision for the future that goes way beyond anything previously seen in the marine segment. As such, the company has elected to present it for the first time at the world's most prestigious technology show, CES, which is the ideal platform to share its holistic re-imagining of how tomorrow's leisure boating experience can be completely transformed.

The concept is the result of imaginative brainpower from a team at Volvo Penta comprising strategists, business development leaders, digital and service experts, as well as technology designers and engineers, all working in collaboration with colleagues from across the wider Volvo Group.

Johan Inden, president of Volvo Penta's global marine business, said CES 2023 is the perfect environment to showcase the company's look to the future.

"Being on the water develops incredible emotional connections in people. It's difficult to convey the true experience and enjoyment you get from exploring, seeking out new adventures or spending time there with friends and loved ones. With this new concept, we want to take this further and make it available to a wider population: Boating for everyone.

"To re-imagine boating and elevate it, we must remove all conventional boundaries and completely reframe what it is. We want to challenge current thinking and be challenged ourselves. Our concept is designed to spark a dialogue, and we look forward to discussing it at CES. How can we make boating more accessible — to anyone who wants to enjoy it? How can we build a boating universe with unlimited ways to explore and enjoy our waters, while at the same time protecting them? These are exciting questions and we're at the start of our journey to lead the discussion together with our customers and partners."

A future that enables Boating for everyone

The evolution of ease
To open the world of boating to a much wider audience, it must become easier. From selecting the boating experience to greater on-board assistance, there are substantial opportunities to change and simplify the ways things are done, built around an easier customer experience with wider appeal.

An experience designed around you
In the future, Volvo Penta believes that how and why people boat will change, with a more human-centric approach elevating the experience and new technology and business models making it more accessible. Individually tailored experiences offer stronger emotional connections and greater scope for reaching new levels of enjoyment. As part of this, the new customer experience must embrace less experienced boaters and new entrants. For both first-time boaters and highly skilled enthusiasts, there is a need to create a more personalized experience.

Sustainable — above and below the surface
Sustainability will be essential for boating to evolve. Under a call-to-action to move 'beyond the boat', Volvo Penta imagines a future on water that can help protect life above and below the surface, as well as giving leisure boaters more sustainable enjoyment.

Technology evolution will be a key enabler in bringing Volvo Penta's 'Boating for everyone' concept to life. Here are some highlights:

  • Boating as a Service: Boating as a Service could provide a completely new way of enjoying the water, making it easy to access personalized, on-board experiences, so users can choose their own adventure. Boating today requires planning, but Volvo Penta imagines a subscription-based, on-demand single-source platform/experience that can re-shape that, way beyond anything today's boat clubs or shared ownership models offer.

    This concept could see anyone ordering a boating experience, with tailored preferences and equipment based on need and experience levels. This alone has the potential to immediately increase the audience. Boating experience 'packages' could be ready-to-collect at the marina at a chosen time, while experience levels could be accommodated onboard, e.g. with full automation for newcomers and lower levels of automation for accomplished boaters.

  • Going beyond the boat — Volvo Penta Island experience: One of the most ground-breaking examples of innovative concepts is what the company calls Volvo Penta Island. This idea to extend the experience beyond the boat is visualized through a floating, independent structure. It begs the question: what if self-sustaining, floating, man-made offshore islands could serve as a platform to take care of the future customer experience?

    Above sea level, the islands could offer charging services for electric boats, to help accelerate the transition to electric solutions at sea. They could also act as a boating community hub with facilities such as restaurants, service and support, concierge services and more. These centralized gathering points could allow boaters to relax and explore, while also delivering peace of mind.

    Each island could come with its own independent energy production capabilities, harnessing sun, wind and wave power. And they would be mobile too, with the ability to position themselves within easy range of boaters in need of a recharge.

    Below sea-level, Volvo Penta Islands could play a powerful role, supporting the company's desire to push sustainability beyond the boat. For example, hosting an underwater mussel farm which could act as a refuge point for local marine life.

  • Artificial Intelligence and automation: For Volvo Penta, AI and automation are key enablers in delivering Boating for everyone. First-time boaters (or those with experience, who simply prefer to enjoy the on-water experience instead of driving) could choose high-level automation. This could be activated at the start of the experience — for example, having the boat automatically deliver itself to the customer meeting point at the marina and then navigating itself out to open water.

    In between the limits of no experience and full experience, automated 'nudging' could enable inexperienced boaters to learn more of the driving process as they progressed. Through AI, the user could learn about driving gradually. This would ensure peace of mind, but also increase boating competence and confidence steadily.

    AI could also be integral to delivering more personalized experiences: understanding user preferences and offering recommendations around experiences, sports, destinations and more.

  • Vessel-to-vessel energy sharing and autonomous recharging: In addition to imagining a future where electrically powered boats can be recharged on Volvo Penta Islands, the company is also presenting two more exciting concepts.

    The first is vessel-to-vessel energy sharing. Imagine if a community of boats in close proximity could redistribute energy according to needs? This could be done through automatic monitoring of energy levels and predictive knowledge of the next step in the boat's journey. Each boat could then automatically ensure it has sufficient charge to reach its next destination.

    The second concept involves recharging from mobile, autonomous submersible pods. Nicknamed 'Stingray' these pods could carry charge to docked vessels and automatically connect and re-charge as needed, without user input. The vessel might simply reach an overnight anchor point, settle for the evening, then the user wakes up to a fully-charged battery.

    Future initiatives such as these have the power to shift the concept of what it means to go boating, making it a truly shared and sustainable experience — designed around the boater and aiming to deliver peace of mind.

  • Connectivity and Community: Harnessing cloud-based infrastructure it could be easier than ever to meet with friends and like-minded boaters both online and on-water. Digital anchoring could enable boats to meet out in the open water and allow gatherers to socialize and share services (while also sharing energy, vessel-to-vessel).

    There's the possibility to evolve the experience further while out on the water, with new features and services downloadable on-demand. Similarly, this technology infrastructure could be used to deliver help and assistance. That might be remote driving assistance or concierge-level guidance - for example, harnessing on-board AI to re-route the vessel around troubling weather conditions.

    Travel data from individual boats could also be gathered from surroundings and analyzed, generating recommendations based on a user's profile and current conditions. Volvo Penta believes this kind of functionality has the potential to truly make Boating for everyone.

  • Wildlife protection technology: The holistic focus on sustainability that Volvo Penta imagines in tomorrow's boating incorporates multiple facets. One of the intriguing proposals it has is for wildlife protection technology. Here, connected vessels send signals to each other when vulnerable sea life is nearby, such as whales and dolphins. Such technology could automatically alert vessels to slow down to boost protection or avoid the area entirely.

    Alongside this, Volvo Penta also believes we will see new behaviors in boaters, with many opting to enjoy the low-speed, near-silent cruising that electric boats can deliver. This would also be less intrusive and disruptive to marine life.

Collaborating to deliver an immersive boating experience

As part of showcasing its vision and experiences, CES 2023 is an opportunity for Volvo Penta to spark a dialogue with visitors about the future of the boating experience.

"We see unlimited potential in future boating, harnessing technological advances in AI, automation, electrification and digital experiences, plus new business models that open up accessibility. This will allow us to shape a new world of wonder and enjoyment — beyond even what we've seen on land," adds Johan Inden. "There is a unique and exciting future at sea that will be more sustainable, intuitive, easy, and seamless. What we are sharing is not a ready-made blueprint for the future. It is a conceptual look at how the future could evolve — intended to spark a dialogue. Capturing feedback from CES is a key opportunity to define the future of boating, where we aim to apply this feedback directly into our R&D process."

Volvo Penta invites as many visitors as possible to stop by the company's booth, to share feedback and enjoy its other exhibits. In addition to imagining tomorrow's boating, the company will show how the transformation is already taking shape today. Through an immersive virtual recreation of the near-silent cruising enjoyed aboard the hybrid-electric vessel, Kvitbjørn, CES visitors can experience what it's like to be on this groundbreaking, hybrid-electric vessel that operates deep within the Arctic Circle. Hurtigruten Svalbard put it into commercial operation in 2022 to widespread acclaim and is offering tourists a deeper, more connected way to experience the fragile wilderness of glaciers, icebergs and Arctic desert.

Volvo Penta will be in the West Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center — Booth 6524. For those not attending CES, updates will be posted across the company's social media channels: Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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