Given myriad safety concerns, the boating and marine corporation Brunswick had to unfortunately pull out of its in-person CES 2022 attendance. This didn't, however, impede upon their mark in the transportational tech sector, as a miniscule amount of attention was put forth concerning revolutionized and advanced recreational marine products at the convention. 

For their part, Brunswick not only wants to upgrade and evolve boating tech through a sustainable outlook, they also want to "democratize boating" itself, so says CEO David Foulkes. This is at the core of the company's values, broadening relationships between boaters, as well as making it easy for their consumers to raise concerns on issues and pain points that plague boaters on a daily basis. 

Showcased virtually, Brunswick's appearance at CES 2022 was underpinned by its "ACES initiative," of which stands for Autonomy, Connectivity, Electrification, and Shared access. While others tended to force one or two points of major contention at CES, Brunswick shows almost all of its cards for its future endeavours in advancing marine technology. 

Brunswick's narrative approach to marine and boating innovation
(Photo : Brunswick)

The most important of these feats is utilizing advanced systems to improve the boating experience, such as automation. As someone who has experienced a great deal of boat trips, I can attest to the major difficulties that come with docking. Thus assisted docking is one of the driving features behind Brunswick, but it comes with some difficulties in terms of the variations in marine conditions.

For a car, automated parking seems like a fundamental asset and a no-brainer, but for a boat there are a ton of different variables that must be met first before docking can be achieved fully autonomously. Brunswick has, to some degree, gamified this approach through what is called the JPO system, or the Joystick Piloting for Outboards. 

The product, much like a retro Atari 2600 controller, allows users to maneuver the boats with a simple yet still sophisticated joystick, but it also enhances the boat's navigational systems via "advanced machine vision technology," which allows the boat to seamlessly avoid obstacles and various conditions while docking. 

It's certainly an interesting use of "gamifying boating," but if the assisted docking procedure can become more mainstream, as well as more advanced into the future, it would totally revolutionize marinas and potentially lower crash landings at docks. 

Brunswick has likewise entered into a partnership with Carnegie Robotics (CRL) to fuel broadened development for ADAS boating functionality. ADAS stands for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, basically referring to a way for autonomy to become more stable with the valued pilot still at the helm. 

The engineering knowhow behind CRL bred Brunswick's stereo cameras, which is an incredible 360 degree, 60 meter radius alert system that helps captains avoid impending obstacles while at sea. These stereo cameras will allow boaters various enhancements, like blind spot monitoring, diverse vessel tracking, path guidance, and much more. 

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Brunswick & CRL partnership for stereo cameras
(Photo : Brunswick)

Sustainability is also as important to Brunswick as innovation, proven by its commitment to think boldly in its design of advanced propulsion systems. Utilizing both solar energy compounded with a closed loop system to conserve water consumption, various forms of sustainability are being pushed to the test at Brunswick. The company has its sights set on 2023 as a point for launching electric boats in four different segments, in addition to launching five varied electric propulsion products. 

At the forefront of this endeavor is the E1 Series RaceBird, a fine-looking piece of technology as it is a welcome sight for bettering the environment. Mercury Racing's RaceBird prototype utilizes hydrofoil, which raises the vehicle above the water's surface so as to decrease drag as much as possible while still maintaining the maximum amount of energy efficiency. With a top speed of 58 mph, the RaceBird is certainly something to watch (if your eyes can keep up, of course). 

A major highlight for Brunswick is the Mercury Marine's V12 Verado, a 600-horsepower outboard engine that packs within it an ever-stable propulsion system built on fuel-efficiency and comfort, given how quiet and light it is. Beyond that, the Verado wields behind it some intricate digital controls that, as Brunswick itself relays, "elevate your boating experience," thus only proves why it was among CES 2022's Innovation Award honorees

It's not the first time Brunswick found itself among these most astute awardees, as witnessed in its 2021 1st Mate Marine System, a rather incredible piece of safety gear that alerts pilots of an overboard passenger, resplendent even with GPS located tracking. When even the pilot goes overboard, the boat stops, bridging the worlds of safety and technology through one handy piece of wearable marine hardware. 

One of the biggest talking points amid CES 2022 was the applications afforded via the metaverse. While one may not initially see the reason for a boating company to utilize the metaverse, Brunswick begs to differ given its use of Unreal Engine in mapping marine environments and shaping safety procedure concerns through a digital space. Much of the metaverse can be applied by Brunswick to help fuel innovation for the future, and it shows. 

But it's not just the metaverse that aids in Brunswick's endeavors. It's likewise - and, arguably most importantly - consumers. Via Ripl, a community driven safe space for boaters, Brunswick can archive data and receive feedback on the necessary qualms facing boaters on a daily basis. It's an interesting use of both a consumer-facing approach while also bringing boaters together through higher technological aspirations. 

Thus leads me into the "S" in their ACES approach. Shared experiences, although not as sexy or flashy as the aforementioned technological innovations, is just as important. Through the Freedom Boat Club, Brunswick aims to democratize boating, allowing further growth in the sector by delivering a pseudo-AirBnB experience for wannabe boaters. Through a simple application and monthly payment plan, potential boating newbies or even traveling pros can access a wide variety of rentable boats made available per the over 300 various clubs under Brunswick's current program.

Brunswick by the numbers
(Photo : Brunswick)

It's one step forward in making the ocean a community-driven arena for togetherness, sustainability, and technological innovation, all wrapped into one shiny corporation that merely wants to expand the industry in a ton of different ways. This can be seen best in how even advanced tech doesn't stop Brunswick from empowering users, as the acquisition of Navico in 2021 furthers their commitment to systems integration and simplicity for the non-tech savvy. 

Brunswick vies for a more enhanced boating experience through sustainable innovation and a sound community-driven approach. Led by Foulkes and a talented team of high-class engineers, researchers, and industry professionals, this marine company will continue to evolve and shape the way we traverse the waters.

With plans for an in-person visit to CES 2023 already booked, Brunswick will no doubt showcase even more perfected products that ever-revolutionize constraints in modern boating heading well into the future.

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Written by Ryan Epps

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