Yamaha unveiled its new long-term business plan. The road map has a large emphasis on autonomous boating — a concept that isn’t confined to self-operating vessels.
“We use the word ‘autonomous’ a lot. What you see with cars, people get in the car and it takes them somewhere,” Ben Speciale, president of Yamaha Motor Corp. told Trade Only Today. “For me, I would like this. But on the boat and engine side, I think the consumer will want to continue to have interaction with the product.”
Speciale points to Yamaha’s Helm Master as an example of integrating the experience for boaters by making it more autonomous and intuitive. He also gave collision avoidance as an example of a way to make boating more intuitive and less intimidating.
“If you go back to the early days with Helm Master, I used to say it was really neat, not because it helps people dock boat with a joystick control system,” said Speciale. “It’s neat because it makes bigger boats drive smaller. So now I want to buy a bigger boat.”
From a conceptual point of view, the domestic arm of the company will seek to move from being a true hardware provider to a systems provider, said Speciale, so the human experience with a vessel becomes “tighter, closer and more seamless.”
The company will invest resources globally and in the United States to accomplish that, said Speciale. Yamaha Motor USA will also announce some organizational changes that will help it grow those capabilities domestically.
“We needed more resources here to execute the 2030 vision,” said Speciale. “The side we wanted to explore is the softer side of the marketplace, which is more about human interaction and touch, and physical accuracy. We want to do more of that development here. Our organizational changes will grow those capabilities in the United States.”
The ultimate goal is to deliver the technology in a way that makes the boating experience more reliable, said Speciale.
“If technology is more likely to prevent me from doing something crazy, it allows the boat to interact with the consumer on a much more personal level, while allowing the consumer greater confidence to operate the vessel,” said Speciale. “If you bring in autonomous operations, that will help boaters have a better experience as boats keep getting more sophisticated and bigger.”
The long-term plan also emphasized robotics and “intelligent technology” to provide a value proposition to customers by making the boat and technology “smart,” said Speciale.
Though the battery storage capabilities are not yet advanced enough to focus on electric propulsion, Yamaha is also looking at electrification of other systems. “If you take propulsion out of it, there is lots of electrification happening today,” said Speciale. “There’s a lot of opportunity there.”