Independent panel selects product based on innovation, benefit to boaters, practicality and value.
Raymarine took top honors at the 2013 National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA) International Marine Electronics Conference & Expo, winning the NMEA-BWI Technology Award for its Evolution Autopilot. The NMEA event, held at the San Diego Sheraton Hotel & Marina September 25-28, was attended by representatives of leading marine electronics manufacturers, dealers, distributors, media, and others from the United States and abroad.
Named runners-up in the Technology Award competition were Nobeltec's TimeZero app (first) and Garmin's quatix marine watch (second). Three members of Boating Writers International (BWI) selected the winners from a dozen entries of recently introduced marine electronics products, based on innovation, benefit to boaters, practicality, and value.
In presenting the award, head judge Bill Bishop, who writes The Marine Installer's Rant blog, said, "The new Raymarine autopilot, after a simple dockside set-up, automatically teaches itself how to steer the boat, and linearizes the compass. This artificial intelligence feeling system eliminates the traditional sea trial autopilot calibration, and when coupled with the mount-almost-anywhere heading sensor made it a technology stand out." Bishop is also a contributor to Practical Sailor and owns Parmain Boatworks.
The other BWI judges were Zuzana Prochazka, who writes the Talk of the Dock blog and is a contributor to several other blogs and publications, and Mark Corke, who writes the blog On Board with Mark Corke and is a SAMS surveyor and Sail magazine writer. Introduced in 2009, the NMEA-BWI Technology Award recognizes the important and valued role performed by the independent BWI panel in selecting the annual technology award.
"The NMEA-BWI Technology Award further recognizes Raymarine's passion for creating innovative products that benefit the boating industry and public as a whole," said Raymarine General Manager Grégoire Outters. "It's a huge boost for everyone here to have our revolutionary new Evolution Autopilot recognized in this way."
The heart of the Evolution system is Raymarine's EV sensor core, which contains a nine-axis sensor system for precise monitoring of pitch, roll, yaw, and heading. It also contains all of the autopilot's guidance electronics. This reduces the size of the traditional autopilot core pack to an ultracompact five-inch disc that can be mounted just about anywhere above or below decks.
After installation is complete, the Evolution Autopilot requires virtually no calibration, the manufacturer said. A Dockside Wizard collects a few basic parameters about drive type and rudder, after which the vessel is ready to get underway. The previous task of compass linearization has been replaced by a fully automatic background routine that runs while the vessel is underway. Simultaneously Evolution's AI algorithms go to work immediately to develop a baseline steering configuration for the vessel. Rudder gain, counter rudder, and other variables are calculated and updated automatically.
Also presented at the 2013 Conference & Expo were the always popular NMEA Product and Manufacturer of the Year-Support Awards. NMEA Executive Director Bruce Angus said, "The product awards ceremony is a highlight of the NMEA Conference and Expo, and we are fortunate to be in an industry with so many innovative, cutting-edge products that are recognized every year. All of the category awards are well deserved, and it is a challenging task for the judges to choose amongst the many excellent and award-worthy products submitted."
Regional panels of NMEA members from around the country selected winners in several categories. Here are the results:
Garmin GHP 20 Autopilot with Smart Pump
Humminbird 360 Imaging
Furuno TZT14 with DRS4D
KVH TracPhone V3
KVH TracVision HD11
Furuno NavNet TZtouch Black Box System
Nobeltec TimeZero app
FLIR MD-625 Thermal Imager
Manufacturer of the Year-Support
Founded in 1957, the NMEA has led the way in establishing technical standards for data exchange in marine electronics, with the widely accepted NMEA 0183 data protocol, NMEA 2000® and certification standards for marine electronics technicians. NMEA standards and programs focus on insuring that the boating consumer is provided with reliable products and professional service. For more information, visit the NMEA website at www.NMEA.org or call 410-975-9425. For a copy of this picture or release in a Word Doc, please contact Kristi Bifulco, firstname.lastname@example.org, 1-207-236-6196.