ORLANDO, Fla. — Mercury Marine president John Pfeifer last evening welcomed marine journalists and others from the industry to the Hyatt Regency at the Orlando International Airport. Today, the group heads to Mercury’s Lake X test facility for product demonstrations, including a new assisted-docking system.
“We love these events because if there’s one thing we like to do, it’s show off the products we create,” Pfeifer told the audience. “Our products are about performance and leadership in the industry, so we still follow the lead that was set for our business.”
The assisted docking system is based on aerospace control systems and autonomous-car artificial intelligence. Mercury’s autonomous system will support a variety of future uses for assisted and semiautonomous functionality. The technology also is adaptable to partner systems, such as Raymarine DockSense.
The system is being demonstrated at Lake X on a Boston Whaler 330 Outrage with twin Mercury Verados and Joystick Piloting for Outboards. Mercury collaborated with Raymarine to incorporate Raymarine’s DockSense system, which uses vision technology to sense and identify potential obstacles on the boat’s course, providing feedback to the Mercury autonomous system to allow the JPO system respond.
“We’re able to provide a product that makes it simple and easy to dock a boat without hitting anything,” Pfeifer said. “This will ultimately turn into an automatic-docking product.”
Tim Reid, Mercury vice president of engineering and product development, said that the system uses Raymarine cameras on the boat, with autonomous operation and perception modules developed by Mercury.
“A key pain point is docking or any close-quartering operation,” Reid said. “We’re looking for technology that can be integrated into boats.”
In other news, Pfeifer said that Mercury achieved a milestone in eclipsing the $3 billion mark in 2018 among its engine manufacturing, systems affiliates and distribution divisions. “We’re going to start turning boats into integrated machines,” he said of Mercury’s aim to provide complete operation systems for boatbuilders.
Summarizing the goal for the parts and distribution divisions, he added, “Every time people go boating, there are things they need, and we need to make it easier for them to get what they need wherever and whenever they want to buy it.”