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Is your boat smarter than you are?

by Peter Janssen 16 Mar 2019 10:01 PDT
Numarine 78HTS © Numarine

We already have smart phones, smart cars, and perhaps even smart refrigerators. Now we're getting smart boats too.

Consider this: Numarine will introduce its new 78HTS as "the world's most innovative smart yacht" at the Palm Beach International Boat Show, starting March 28. The boat actually was displayed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January to promote its new artificial intelligence systems worked out with Furrion, the luxury innovation company.

The Numarine 78 (pictured above) is indeed smart. On board, you can interact with Angel, a virtual onboard concierge, and with a series of Smart Mirrors that use facial recognition to make most of the boat's systems work just the way you want. You just say, "Hi Angel," or touch the mirror, so the glass surface wakes up and functions like a touchscreen display on a tablet, and you can do everything from firing up the genset to making a reservation at a waterfront restaurant.

At the Miami show last month, Raymarine introduced its new DockSense "assisted docking" system, which uses artificial intelligence to help you dock your boat safely. The system uses FLIR vision camera technology, video analytics and a central processing module to create a Virtual Bumper, which is really a no-go zone, to keep the boat from hitting anything a dock, a piling, another boat.

Raymarine demonstrated DockSense on a Prestige 460 with twin Volvo diesels and a Boston Whaler 330 Outrage with twin 300-hp Mercury outboards at the show. When you approach a dock, you set the Virtual Bumper at, say, three feet, and if the boat detects an object at the edge of the zone it simply won't go there. It works. I know, I tried it.

For its part, two years ago Sabre created a digital switching system so sophisticated on its new flagship 66 Dirigo that the engineers named it HAL, after the talking computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The system is made up of Mastervolt CZone and Maretron products shown and controlled by Garmin displays and iPad Minis. Sabre added layers of coding so that almost all the AC and DC systems on the boat are connected by the network, which you can access from your iPad anywhere on the boat.

For sophisticated systems, think about all the coding that goes into controlling articulating pod drives, such as Zeus or IPS, or Hinckley's patented JetStick, that all make boating much easier than ever before. And all the advances in electronics, including GPS, radar, AIS and DSC. They certainly make boating safer than ever before.

Once the genie is out of the bottle, it seems, innovation will continue to make boats smarter than ever in the future. Indeed, when John Pfeifer, the president of Mercury Marine, talked about his company's collaboration with Raymarine on the new DockSense, he said, "It's called assisted docking today. But there's no doubt there will be autonomous docking in the future."

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This article has been provided by the courtesy of the Cruising Odyssey.

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