A game-changing experience for everyone on board, built on the world’s best marine guidance platform. That’s the promise of ‘BoatingOS’, a major new initiative by Irish marine technology company, Raceix, in association with Beneteau, their global development partner.
BoatingOS is an entirely new operating system which will power the next generation of chart-plotters - much like how Android works for smartphones. It’s an always-connected platform, delivering data to the helm in a usable, understandable and contextually-aware way, while also unlocking millions of completely new data points which will enrich the boating experience on board. Those behind the initiative believe that current solutions can be difficult to understand, may contain information that is often out of date, and do little to encourage and support fresh marine adventures.
“The current fundamentals are at the heart of the problem” according to Stuart Walker, COO of Raceix. “All of the mapping being used in pleasure boats is based entirely on a system designed for commercial shipping which has evolved very slowly over 200 years. What we do, where we go, what we know, and how we operate in the marine-leisure sector is entirely different to large ships. In addition, it’s usually presented in a way that’s entirely counter-intuitive. Our sector has incredibly talented companies delivering amazing innovation in on-board hardware, but it all still rests on the same flawed system. BoatingOS is designed to inform and enhance boating adventures in ways never previously imagined.”
Vicki O’Donnell, head of marine data, explains further “Current marine-mapping is often based on very old data, in fact only 15% of the Earth’s oceans are mapped and some of this data is over 50 years old. Mapping the ocean is expensive and the data that we all use on our chart-plotters can actually represent less than 20% of the actual global data collected from surveys by governmental bodies right across the world. The additional data, which we can now unlock through BoatingOS, will be a game-changer for pleasure boaters. For example, crowd-sourced bathymetry has been the ‘Holy Grail’ in hydrographic offices across the world for over a decade. Those that have looked at what we’re doing believe that we will finally unlock the enormous potential of leisure craft fleets around the world by delivering the most up-to-date mapping, to ensure safety at sea.”
While the levels of complexity within BoatingOS may be significant, how it’s presented and used in our boats will not be. Raceix’s Chief Technology Officer, Sam Santi, tells us more. “The platform uses AI and Machine-Learning to improve data from multiple sources, including user-generated data. All of this is displayed in one intuitive interface built on key features such as next-generation charts, routing, dynamic POI’s, weather, etc. The dynamic system is designed to continuously evolve and improve, and this is done without any input needed from the boater. Our over-the-air updates keep users constantly up to date, much like how Tesla keeps improving its in-car systems. The value in the system continues to increase over time.”
For Beneteau, arguably the world’s largest and most respected boat manufacturer, the opportunity to support BoatingOS was an ideal partnership for both sides as Luca Brancaleon, their Director General, explains: “Since 1884 Beneteau has placed real innovation at the heart of everything we do. For us it’s not just about getting people into boats, it’s also about how we then support and encourage what they do on the water. This platform will deliver better experiences for boaters - sail and motor - which, in turn, will naturally encourage them to go boating more often. We see this as a game-changer, something which has been needed for some time, but is only possible now with modern, smart technology.” Beneteau have been central to the rapid progress of this platform, providing Raceix with their Barracuda 8 test boat, and unlocking key insights into the sector.
The promise of connected-boating, through this new platform, has broader positive consequences for the entire industry, with boating data and usage patterns being available for the first time (all totally anonymised). The potential this delivers isn’t lost on the leading international industry bodies, such as Jean-Pierre Goudant, President of the European Boating Industry “One of the main priorities to maintain and increase the attractiveness of recreational boating as a high-class leisure activity is safety, responsibility and innovation. We are delighted that our sustaining member Raceix and Beneteau are announcing the BoatingOS platform that addresses this in a highly accessible manner for current and future consumers.”
BoatingOS will also use its live updates to ensure that sensitive areas and marine wildlife can be identified and managed, plus allowing carbon footprints to be measured and offset.
Within BoatingOS, a ‘citizen-science’ system will allow boaters to collect environmental data, which will be delivered to research agencies and national or regional organisations (e.g. European Marine Observation and Data Network) as part of research campaigns, as well as back to other users of BoatingOS.
BoatingOS will also provide data into key global initiatives such as Gebco’s Seabed 2030 project and the UN Decade of the Ocean (2020-2030) programme, which focuses on delivering a new maritime knowledge base for data-driven decision making. In addition, BoatingOS will run research/crowdsourced data experiments for a variety of scientists at various times of the year. This unique opportunity will not only engage users, but add to the knowledge of marine and coastal ecosystems.
Major regional and global bodies, authorities and institutions are now working together with Raceix to see BoatingOS adopted as an Industry-Standard in order to deliver better, safer, more responsible and, ultimately, more enjoyable boating.
The first formal announcement of BoatingOS, at Boot Dusseldorf, marked the end of the first stage of research and development, prototyping and testing, and the start of the next stage where the platform will be fully built-out and released.