As the superyacht industry welcomes a new generation of crew, with new demands and expectations, the operational experience on board will need to evolve to suit their needs. While vessels are growing more complex, Gunther Alvarado, head of yacht management and marine operation at Al Seer Marine, believes systems need to be updated to keep up with the technology crew are used to in their everyday lives.

“Seventy per cent of crew in our fleet are millennials and Generation Z. These generations are born with an iPhone in their hand,” said Alvarado during a panel discussion at The Superyacht Forum 2019. “We need to make our systems a lot more interactive, from flag states and regulatory bodies, to make it easy for crew to access information and automatically remind them about things to do.”

The inevitable integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) on board will have an impact on the crew of the future, with the potential to transform operations such as navigation, maintenance and even service. “Our owners have these technologies in their own businesses and homes, so it won’t be long until they want them on their yachts,” says Mike Blake, president of Palladium Technologies.

“Our owners have these technologies in their own businesses and homes, so it won’t be long until they want them on their yachts...”

“The commercial shipping industry is already testing autonomous vessels, and superyacht captains only drive the yacht a small percentage of the time anyway, so AI systems can take it over because they have an endless attention span to do the repetitive task of monitoring all the information in the bridge. AI will also be used in the engine room to monitor all systems at once and predict any failures. It could even be used in the interior – I think we will have systems that will read who the guests are and be able to give a much better service.”

Joseph Adir, founder and CEO of WinterHaven, agrees that AI and ML are going to transform the way in which superyachts are operated. “The continued growth of IoT technology utilising deep-learning computer systems and high-volume data analytics on OnPrem and Cloud will deliver greater benefits for superyacht owners in the future,” says Adir.

“Integrating IoTs and sensors connected to Edge ML, all aggregated into a large AI/ML platform, will deliver a smart interactive 3D interface on board [that] will give all stakeholders an in-depth view of the asset. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can then be used to mine the big data and monitor all equipment and systems on board for performance management and optimisation, as well as predictive maintenance.”

Safe operation on yachts will likely rely on using this technology alongside a documented and structured manual check process. These future solutions will then not only increase safety on board, but also eventually reduce the need for human-machine interaction by automating selected tasks and processes, while the captain and crew remain at the centre of critical decision-making and on-board expertise.

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