The expert perspective
CES 2018 saw wireless charging hit the automotive scene in a big way, with both Qualcomm and Continental presenting competing standards of electric charging pads in the hope that soon plugging in electric cars will be a thing of the past. These prototypes envision us simply driving over the wireless pad, with a reciprocal receiving pad attached to the car converting this energy back to electricity to charge the vehicle. The hope is they can be built into newer cars and even retrofitted to some current ones, such as Teslas.
But if these wireless chargers can now be built powerful enough to charge a car, what else can we expect from them? Fully-electric superyachts remain a long way off, and even if they weren’t there would still be considerably larger size/power requirements to tackle. Yet there is one area in which our industry may be able to quickly benefit from this development – electric tenders. To see how likely we are to see this in the near future, we asked the producers of the industry’s favourite toys for their opinion on wireless charging pads on tenders.
David Gray, Designer, Mylne Classic Yacht Design
‘There would certainly be benefits for wireless charging; if you lift your tender on board and there’s a specific place where you can put it to charge then that would be useful. It’s not an area that we currently have a lot of knowledge on, though electric tenders in general are our area. I know that its effectiveness is dependent on how close one coil is to the other, so you would have to ensure the pads were very close.
We are developing a new electric tender right now, but that will use a type 2 connector as the charger. This is what we tend to use as you can get up to 42kw of power from these; I’m not sure how much power a wireless charging pad would be capable of.
We think of ourselves as taking developments in the automotive industry into the marine, so if there have been developments to charge cars wirelessly then I can’t see why we wouldn’t adopt it in the future. As long as it doesn’t upset the compass on the boat. The main problem I can think of is that since the pads send out electromagnetic pulsewaves, these might interfere with various systems on the main vessel. But I am sure the manufacturers have worked out a way to get around this. iPhones use wireless charging, toothbrushes use it, and the technology works very well for these devices. I’m sure it will only continue to develop.
Mylne Classic Yacht Design produced the much-revered electric Mylne Bolt 18 in 2012, leading Gray to declare it the first of many electric superyacht tenders to come from the company.
Angus Gilmore, Project Assistant, Superyacht Tenders and Toys
‘My opinion is that the industry needs to work out how to improve the flaws in electric vessels before moving on to incorporating wireless charging pads.
I think from my point of view I’ve not yet seen anything electric that has worked quite as well as the diesel tenders. We don’t actually make a lot of electric tenders/toys, so I don’t know whether that is just inexperience on my part, but certainly at the moment I haven’t come across anything that has been up to scratch. They simply don’t last as long. So, the user gets less time on them before needing to re-charge, and the performance is also not quite there, for example the electric wakeboards I have come across just don’t seem to get up to the same speeds.
Having said that, any technical advancements are always good and once electric toys are up to scratch I do think these charging pads would be very helpful. And with tonnes of people currently talking about eco-tenders and so many seeming to be in development, who’s to say that this isn’t just around the corner?’
Superyacht Tenders and Toys added electric PowerBoards, including electric motor-assist Stand Up Paddleboards (SUP’s) and eSurfboards, to its product range in 2015.
Stig Olssoen, Product Manager, Goldfish Boat
‘We designed a concept for an electric boat six or seven years ago, but we very quickly realised the issues it raised around sustaining power. Boats are a lot bigger than a car and most of time in a car you are just rolling, so less power is required. However, electrically powered tenders are doable.
For us, wireless solutions are always the best option, so if the technology is available then these wireless charging pads would definitely be preferable. I’m not sure whether there would be issues with the electromagnetic charge interfering with the main vessel – it’s out of my knowledge. However, from what I know, most of the big superyachts have high-voltage 400v generator systems that allow for very quick charging, so there should be enough power for the pads to work.
If you could just dock your tender and put it straight onto a wireless charging pad it would certainly mean there was less to worry about. And whilst we are not building any electric tenders at the moment, our sister company Mono Yacht is working on exploring future concepts in this area.’
The company’s Goldfish 23 eFusion boat is believed to be the world’s fastest electric superyacht tender, topping out at a highly impressive 47 knots.
So there we have it. While it doesn’t look like we will see wireless charging pads incorporated into the electric tenders currently in manufacture, there is plenty of scope for the future. And though some may not consider electrically-run toys to be on a par with their diesel-run alternatives, new and better options are being added to the market every day. As last month’s ETO X pointed out, surely anything that can reduce the amount of cables on board is a good thing. The future is wireless, and we would do well to keep up!
By Colette Flowerdew-Kincaid
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