How many times have you read, in the superyacht media, about drones? I’d put good money on the fact that that number goes far beyond what can be counted on one hand. Drones seem to be the superyacht industry’s new hot topic in terms of cyber security – one of those things people know needs to be talked about and know is, in some ways, important, but isn’t necessarily sure how or why. The result? As with cyber security (where people have just been talking about the growing threat – one of the reasons our two ‘cyber’ sessions at The Superyacht Forum later this month are not on cyber security as a whole, but more looking at the process of cyber hacking and the insurance required respectively), there’s been a lot of scaremongering – an industry favourite when it comes to, quite possibly, not understanding the true risks associated with a particular technology.
And that’s why, in Issue 183 of The Superyacht Report, yes, we take a look at drones. But before you roll your eyes, for once, the superyacht industry isn’t being presented with a list of why we need to be terrified about drone, and their various security implications. That’s not to say, of course, they do not pose a threat – of course they do, especially when it comes to privacy. But so much scaremongering has left little room for a candid analysis of the positive aspect of drone us, of which there are many, whether that be family videos during a charter or the deployment of life jackets.
Let’s start from a creative point of view. Jeff Brown, creative director at Breed Media, the superyacht creative agency, describes drones as “another tool”. In no way do they replace the high-quality cameras required to get the best images and footage of superyachts, but they certainly add an alternative – and a cheaper one, at that. But, as Brown points out, you still need to pay for the time of the drone photographer or videographer, and, Brown adds, “$800 for an hour of helicopter use in the South of France is not all that much when you’re talking about the sale of a multimillion-dollar superyacht.”
Any member of the superyacht industry on Instagram must have come across the account for the Amels motoryacht Gene Machine (and if you haven’t, follow it immediately). The crew use the drone for all sorts of reasons – though largely to make videos for the owner and his family – and some of the footage is truly spectacular. But, when the crew finds the time, they find other uses for it.
“About a year ago, we were just messing around with the crew, and we managed to put a quick release on a drone to drop a life jacket to a person in the water,” says Gow, who explains he is also looking at the use of FLIR cameras on drones, with a view to aiding search-and-rescue operations.
So rather than talking about the same old security issues presented by drones, the industry would do well to consider the positives, which in no way cancel out those security issues, but should be considered separately. An intruder using a drone to get photos of a private charter is a completely different situation to a captain using one to rescue a man overboard. And surely, with a bit more focus on the positives, particularly those pertaining to safety, we could be in for a more exciting – and safe – future.
To read the full article, by Rory Jackson, in Issue 183 of The Superyacht Report, sign up for your complimentary 12-month VIP subscription here.
The Superyacht Forum, where industry leaders meet, inclusive of the above-mentioned workshops on cyber security, runs from 13-16 November in Amsterdam. For more information on the programme, or to register, please click here.