Marking the tenth anniversary of Feadship’s Future Concept series, De Voogt Naval Architects has unveiled yet another futuristic blueprint at the 2016 edition of the Monaco Yacht Show (MYS). But this time it’s the subject of autonomy, which is on everyone’s minds as the Dutch yard introduced a system they are calling the Feadship Independent Control System (FICS), which it thinks could be the answer to unnecessary operating expenses and, in some cases, space.

Not surprisingly, the 74.5m concept, known as ‘Choice’, dabbles in the unprecedented realms of superyacht design and has even been likened to a Swiss army knife by the Dutch shipyard. The reason being that Choice actually features two detachable tenders, mounted in the side of the hull, in addition to a detachable beach house. Here it’s the idea of physically changing a yacht’s profile which is interesting, without affecting the structural integrity of the vessel, which is where the idea of the Swiss army knife originates. But could this be the future of superyacht design – could we soon see multifunctional yachts on the water that offer detachable features in order to save interior space?

“The essence of our thinking on Choice is recognition that the ability to transform a yacht while underway is becoming ever-more important to owners,” says Ruud Baker, senior designer at Feadship. “Our aim with this new concept is to give even more options once guests are on board. The 74.5m concept facilitates autonomous exploration in new and refreshing ways.”

Perhaps it could be autonomous yachts that could be the answer to the operational issues surrounding manning and maintenance. As technology develops, will there be a need for a crew of 20-plus individuals on a 70m superyacht? According to data collected by The Superyacht Intelligence Agency, there is an average of 21 crewmembers on a yacht with an LOA between 70m and 75m, but as autonomous technology develops this number could be significantly reduced, thus creating additional guest space and reducing crew expenditure. In the future the reduction of crew, and therefore crew space, could even be a simple way to reduce gross tonnage.

Its not just Feadship who is looking towards the autonomous vessel. Earlier this year, during the ‘un-conference’ keynote session, which took place at this year’s SuperyachtDESIGN Week, the autonomous yacht was discussed as one of the likely yachts of the future, as well as the multifunctional yacht, which is just one of the aspects of Feadship’s Choice concept. But are owners ready for such a technologically driven superyacht market? Although technology is advancing every day, will the concept of autonomy ruin the industry’s human cantered appeal?

Feadship claims that each of the Future Concept series is a result of client feedback, regular brainstorming and research studies indicating that this could be what owners would like to see.

“We haven’t quite reached the autopilot stage yet, but the way this solution communicates with the environment is optimised to the highest degree,” says Bakker. “FICS supports captains and frees up their time for other things that make the guests’ stay on a Feadship even more pleasant.”

Although it appears we are still a long way from seeing autonomous yachts on the water, as well as being trusted by captains and owners alike, discussions like these are prevalent and do appear to be a common denominator in the future of yacht design.



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