AI in the Superyacht Industry

Artificial Intelligence. It’s the hot topic these days and it seems not a day goes by when you don’t read or hear about it. As it continues in its rise to prominence, we wait to truly see what the future holds regarding AI within our industry. Companies in the Maritime and Superyacht sector are already well underway with the application of AI to their offerings and here at dsnm, we are no different.

Within our Compass software, we have integrated Artificial Intelligence, with ChatGPT producing a live weather report based on geographically tagged locations. By using AI in weather reporting we can produce more accurate reports over time as the system learns and understands weather patterns. With this increased accuracy, we can better influence passage plans and enhance crew safety during their voyages.

Weather is a start, but where else will AI be used to assist the bridge team, where else in yachting has it or will it be used, how many AI products are already out there for use onboard superyachts, and the big question that’s on a lot of people’s lips – will it take over human responsibilities?

dsnm spoke to industry professionals, Conrad Empson (CrewPass Managing Director), Julen Garcia (The Yacht Videographer Managing Director) and Stuart Denham-Harding (dsnm Digital Development Manager), to find out their thoughts on how Artificial Intelligence is impacting the industry, where they think it will be used in future, and if it’s a positive or negative addition.

The Benefits of AI in the Superyacht Industry

There is a whole host of services already available to the superyacht industry, and emerging entrepreneurs are developing new products & companies to fill gaps in the market. Amongst the designers, crew recruiters, management companies and dedicated yacht videographers are businesses, often created by ex-yachties, that provide specialist services built from an idea they had whilst on board. Conrad Empson is the Managing Director of CrewPass, a program designed to background check crew to safeguard the team on board.

When CrewPass was created in 2021, Artificial Intelligence wasn’t anywhere near the level that it is today and was only spoken about as something to expect in the future. Since then, it has progressed immensely and is an integral addition to daily life at CrewPass.

“AI significantly enhances various areas of CrewPass by integrating systems and streamlining processes,” Conrad says. “All employees are encouraged to use AI tools to enhance their efficiency. For instance, what previously took 20 minutes to draft an email can now be accomplished in less time by generating drafts from rough prompts using AI,” he adds.

Content producer and managing director of The Yacht Videographer, Julen Garcia, provides a very different service to the industry to CrewPass, however, the company is also able to reap the rewards when integrating AI.

“AI has great potential benefits worldwide, and our business is no exception. As a small business, AI has the potential to do a big part of our work quicker and more efficiently, giving us the chance to compete against bigger players in the industry.” Julen says.

The biggest takeaway with regards to the benefits is the efficiency that AI provides, whether it is used to handle enquiries and document processing or to streamline the content editing process. All of which allow staff to effectively work through larger volumes of work in a short space of time.

A futuristic robot driving a boat

Not Without its Limitations

Far from the finished product, AI will supposedly improve as it learns, and being in the early stages of development, it is not without drawbacks.

“These tools have great potential, but they still need a lot of involvement and supervision to produce a decent product. They are definitely not ready to provide a final product to clients, but they work well in presenting concepts and ideas for projects” says Julen.

“Although AI is transformative, it currently has limitations, especially in highly creative tasks. It requires human prompts and oversight to guide its output effectively. However, for direct, rule-based tasks, it excels, and these capabilities are expected to improve further over time.” Conrad adds.

“There are many limitations [with AI] in the professional world, due to the mistakes it currently makes as well as the many different platforms available that are not integrated with main professional tools. Additionally, they are constantly updating and adding new features, so you never know if the AI you are investing your time in learning about will fall behind its competitors. Having to start learning and implementing a new tool from scratch, makes it harder to rely on.” Julen states.

AI generated drawing of a large ship

Missing the Personal Touch

One of the most common sectors of the industry where AI has seen a big impact is yacht design. Its implementation allows us to peek into what the future of yachts may look like in concept, but in its current form, it may lack the intricacies required when designing an effective working vessel.

“It is likely that most yacht design companies would start to use it, but I see the point of others staying “AI free” to preserve the human craftsmanship behind their work, which can be seen as a purer form of creation, showing higher quality than a tool anyone could use.” Julen proclaims.

“I think in the next few years, it will probably be used in most companies in our industry. The potential is huge and will impact every aspect of the industry because companies will see the possibilities and won’t want to be left behind” he continues.

“While its application in yacht design is pioneering, its utility extends far beyond. I envision its future role in managing and monitoring integrated onboard systems to enhance operational efficiency” says Conrad.

“AI will streamline certain operations however it won’t reduce the need for crew members who provide that unique human touch, essential for the luxury experience on superyachts. The personal service and experience that crew offer is irreplaceable, and AI will rather enhance these elements than replace them” he adds.

A yacht stew holding a tray of champagne

AI and Superyacht Future

In a 2021 BOAT article, there was the announcement of a solar-powered autonomous ship that is set to cross the Atlantic, making its own navigational decisions based on AI. The 15-metre-long vessel abandoned its first attempt in June 2021 due to mechanical issues in the hybrid propulsion system. The unmanned boat engaged in a second attempt almost 12 months later with the ship successfully arriving after 40 days at sea, covering 3,500 miles.

An automated vessel of this size is one thing, but when it comes to boats that range from 30 metres all the way up to over 100 metres, the challenges are significantly different. Full automation of a large vessel is surely a long way into the future, however, the short term could see AI integrated into a range of systems to assist navigation. This automated voyage is just the beginning.

“AI promises significant advancements in navigation; automating route planning while considering factors such as weather, fuel efficiency, and sightseeing opportunities. It might suggest optimal stopover bays based on online resources, provide alerts for key navigational markers, and recommend well-reviewed anchorage sites, among other navigation aids. Additionally, AI could automate mundane tasks shoreside, a potential that remains largely underutilized in our industry” says Conrad.

Autonomous boat on water
Image Credit: IBM

 

Is it Positive or Negative for the industry?

Conrad’s thoughts, “AI is poised to have a profoundly positive impact on the superyacht industry. In recruitment, it can scan vast datasets to quickly identify suitable candidates, significantly speeding up the hiring process and improving the quality of candidate selection. The list is endless, but I truly believe these innovations not only streamline operations but also significantly elevate the level of service and experience provided in the superyacht industry, marking an era of innovation and improved efficiency.”

Julen’s thoughts, “I try to be positive about it, but it is true that this new revolution will also have a negative impact. Some companies will see the benefit of using these tools to reduce the hours needed for work and provide a better work-life balance to their employees. But others will see that with the same amount of work time as before, employees will be able to do more, so they will decide to reduce their number of new hires. At the same time, some companies will find that the services they provide are no longer needed because clients will replace them with AI tools, even if it means a lower quality or customization of the services. I suppose that this is like everything in life – when humans discovered radioactivity, we found medical and energy uses, but we also created the most powerful bomb of that time, so only time will tell if it is positive or negative for our industry, and for the world.”

DSNM would like to thank Conrad and Julen for contributing their time and thoughts to this article.

Images created using Adobe Firefly
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