BY Ryan Swift on 15 Dec 2022

Raymarine will focus much of its 2023 product development effort on integrating products and developing assisted boating technologies

Raymarine, one of the yachting world’s most important suppliers of communications, sensor, imaging and computing equipment for boats, will spend much of 2023 on integrating its systems and working towards assisted or even autonomous boating.

“Integration is more and more critical. What we are selling to customers is a full system, where you can integrate the radars, cameras, sonars – everything together. This is important,” said Raymarine General Manager Grégoire Outters in a recent interview with Asia-Pacific Boating. He added that full integration with Mercury engines will be a product focus in 2023.

Assisted boating means a network of sensors and computing power help captains navigate difficult tasks, such as docking in crowded marinas, or maintaining a yacht in a fixed location against wind and tidal pressures. Autonomous boating, a much-discussed topic, refers to a vessel that is guided only by its own onboard sensors, computing power and information.

At the METSTRADE show in 2022, Raymarine won the DAME Award in the category of Marine Electronics and Marine Related Software for its YachtSense Link, a marine router that connects onboard electronics and allows owners to control hotel systems such as AC and monitor their yachts remotely via an app.

Read: Raymarine and Beneteau announce collaboration

Three years ago, Raymarine launched its DockSense system, which integrates cameras and distance-sensing equipment to help owner/operators dock their yachts in tight marina spaces, even with currents and winds impacting the yacht. The system can even take over control of the yacht to prevent any collisions, though captains remain in control, Outters says.

In 2023, autonomous navigation won’t happen, but we are looking at assisted navigation as a first step – Grégoire Outters

But he says there is more to come in this area. “In 2023, autonomous navigation won’t happen, but we are looking at assisted navigation as a first step,” Outters says.

One of the projects that Raymarine has been working on is the creation of its own proprietary charts for yacht owners. These combine hydrographic data available from UK Admiralty Charts and other hydrographic offices, along with data focused on marinas, points of interest around marinas and yachting hot spots, and other types of data suited to yacht owners.

Raymarine’s map-making effort is also part of its plan to create assisted or even autonomous navigation for yacht owners. “Assisted navigation requires a lot of data, which is another reason why we have our own charts,” Outters says.

“We wanted to provide a unique experience between the charts and the software and the rest of the system we offer. This year (2022), we made a major upgrade to the charts; they are now more practical and powerful, they cover more countries, and they are faster.” Raymarine also uses its customer generated data to help perfect its charts.

Outters says that Raymarine maps for Australia and New Zealand are being released in December and he expects that the chart service will extend to Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Thailand and the rest of Asia-Pacific within the next two years.

“There is a lot we need to do, it is a complex process,” Outters says of the chart-making process. “You need to work with hydrographic offices in these countries and you need to supplement that with other data providers.”

In October 2022, Raymarine signed an MOU with a company called Avikus, a part of the Hyundai Group, which counts shipbuilding as one of their major activities. Avikus specialises in the technology required for autonomous navigation in the commercial shipping world.

Avikus debuted an autonomously operated leisure powerboat at the 2022 Fort Lauderdale Boat Show. While yacht owners may want to drive their own boats during calm seas in open waters, navigating controlled areas or docking may be tasks any owner may wish to ignore.

The prospect of a fully autonomous yacht, requiring an array of sensors, computing power and data, is a tempting one for Raymarine. “We partnered with Avikus to put their technology into the leisure market – you will see more of this in 2023,” concludes Outters.

www.raymarine.com