Garmin buys Nautamatic, sweeeeet!
Moments ago Garmin announced that it has acquired Nautamatic Marine Systems, the inventors and manufacturers of what’s arguably the most innovative autopilot system out there. When I first profiled the TR-1 Gladiator in a 2004 PMY column I noted that breaking into this niche has to be really hard as experimentation and testing are difficult and reputations are built over decades. Hell, I think even the Furuno NavPilot has gone slowly, despite the great name and what I understand is very good performance. At any rate, Nautamatic stuck with it, eventually began to prove its technology, and—yeehaa!—just made the big leagues.
Naturally a Gladiator autopilot is going to be a lot more attractive as part of Garmin’s already ambitious Marine Network, both to individuals and boatbuilders, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Garmin engineers help Nautamatic shine up its user interface a bit (though the “Shadow Drive” feature needs none). Of course, the bigger picture here is that Garmin—obviously intent on going toe to toe with Raymarine, Navico, Furuno, etc. over serious recreational boat electronics—just stepped a dite closer, ramping up a competition that I think is good for all of us. It’s also ironic that today I’m finishing up my PMY feature on ideal electronics systems! At least I recommended designing such a system so that it is easily modified or even replaced.