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Tuesday
Jan302018

Mercury Marine president John Pfeifer discusses autonomous boating technology at New York City Boat Show

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Boat manufacturers continue implementing technology into their vessels to increase its auto pilot ability and lessen the responsibilities of the driver, all while bettering the boat-driving safety.

John Pfeifer, the president of Mercury Marine, presented the company's latest autonomous driving technology at the 113th New York City Boat Show, the Vessel View, and spoke about it from the Javits Center with ABC News.

The boat features a joystick that helps drive the boat and dock it, rather than guiding the boat with a steering wheel. The Vessel View also includes apps and screens that other boat manufacturers are looking to implement into their newest models to make them more autonomous, such as virtual anchoring.

"When we developed a joystick, our primary goal was not to do a sky hook or auto station keeping, but it evolved into that... we realized we can link with satellite coordinators and keep a boat in its position automatically for the boat," Pfiefer says. He adds the driver does not have to do anything other than guide the joystick.

Mercury Marine plans to continue to develop the joystick's capabilities.

Pfeifer also talked about the power of the Vessel View's four engines and how they make it easier for drivers to guide the boat: "These [four] engines will work together to do whatever you want them to do. Doesn't matter what the winds are, doesn't matter what the current is. The boat's going to do what you want it to do."

Pfiefer likens some of these autonomous technologies to that of a car.

While the boat is expensive and available to a handful of buyers, Pfeifer and Mercury Marine want to extend the technology to every day boaters. He stressed the importance of expanding autonomous driving availability as the technology continues to develop:

"They're buying a twenty foot fishing boat, or they're buying a ski boat, or they're buying a recreational boat to use with their families that's easily affordable to the middle class. So to bring this technology into that type of boating... that's meaningful."

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