On day two of The Superyacht Forum, an interactive discussion on the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) took place. A panel consisting of designer Justin Olesinski, Bill Edwards, head of research and development at Olesinski, Mike Blake, president of Palladium Technologies and Joseph Adir, founder and CEO of WinterHaven, debated the application of the technologies in the superyacht industry.

Starting the discussion, Olesinski explained that his studio has invested both money and resources in researching and developing artificial intelligence, utilising the technology within to optimise its hull development processes. “The number of people involved in a yacht build is increasing, and AI will help filter out the deadheads, but primarily it will help owners get boats quicker,” he explained. “The time to market is condensed down, allowing us to expand our market.”

Many in the room admitted that they are interested in finding out more about how the technology could help their businesses, but are unsure how to access it. “In terms of how to build capability, we have been really successful in partnering up with universities,” suggested Edwards. “You can give them real problems to throw at their algorithms.”

Adir confidently told the audience that AI is going to transform the way that superyachts are operated. “The industry has the ability to integrate IoTs and sensors connected to smart control systems on board, so that operators can get a full picture of the asset,” he said. “AI and ML can then be used to process the data collected and learn the optimisation of the systems on board. It will reduce the total cost of ownership and, for shipyards, they can learn about the systems they are producing in a more in-depth way than ever before.”

“It is for the shipyards to pick up the glove and establish partnerships to lead us to a different future...”

Adir pointed out, however, that the challenge is to get shipyards to put IoTs and sensors on systems so that data can be collected. “If AI and ML can log shaft vibration, temperature and sound data from 20 to 30 yachts over a year, the system will be able to predict when the bearing on a shaft is about to fail – it’s predictive analysis,” he explained. “But it is for the shipyards to pick up the glove and establish partnerships to lead us to a different future.”

A shipyard representative in the room responded to Adir's suggestion, saying that this is something they would like to do, but that it is the clients that are reluctant to innovate. It was argued, however, that it should be easy to convince clients to implement such technology, with the reasoning that it increases their yacht's availability – a preventative rather than reactionary solution that would mean less downtime for maintenance and repair.

Blake’s vision for the use of AI and ML in the superyacht industry extends to the driving of yachts. “AI systems will take over the driving, which captains only do a small percentage of the time anyway,” he asserted. “AI systems have an endless attention span and are suitable for repetitive tasks. Our owners have these technologies in their own businesses, so how long will it be until they want them on their yachts?”

A number of conclusions were drawn from the discussion as to what the industry should be doing in order to take advantage of AI and ML technology going forward:

·      The superyacht inudstry needs to start embracing AI and ML technologies, or risk being not being competitive;

·      Shipyards need to be looking to integrate sensors and IoTs on systems on board and use AI and ML to reduce warranty work by preventing system failures and reducing maintenance;

·      Companies wanting to look into AI and ML technologies and how it can help them, should look to collaborate with universities. 


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