AI in yacht design: a new era is upon us?

Can artificial intelligence replace the work of a traditional designer in yacht construction? Should designers be worried about AI taking over completely? Is artificial intelligence the future for superyacht design?

These are some crucial questions that are increasingly associated with yacht design since this type of technology, applied to the nautical sector design, has already proven excellent results.

Artificial intelligence is often seen as unfavorable, often associated with sci-fi and apocalyptic scenarios in which machines with superior intelligence take over the world.

The reality, at least today, is fortunately very different. Most experts in this field argue that AI applied wisely and precisely for a particular purpose, can significantly improve many aspects of modern society.

In this case, they speak of artificial intelligence strictly, meaning an instrument that performs only a specific task.

Artificial Intelligence in everyday life

There is no doubt that AI already profoundly affects our daily life. Examples are some of the most common online services, such as search engines, apps for music streaming, or home automation accessories.

We almost don’t even realize it, but these new technologies take advantage of dedicated AI to collect and process our preferences and tastes regarding various aspects of our life, such as the type of music we listen to, our interests, our likes in terms of food, fashion or travel. Then they give us suggestions on which artists we may like, activities, travel, products and so on. All this is to provide a better user experience that is increasingly attentive to our needs and engaging.

Artificial Intelligence in yacht design

It is now certain that passing through the years, the human element of design is becoming increasingly correlated with the use of always more powerful and precise technologies; with the introduction of AI in format, the human role is further reduced and risks being the weakest link and the most likely source of a failure in the development chain. 

It is impossible to compare human capabilities with robots programmed to make the best decisions.

So is the future of yacht design already marked? No longer entrusted to the expert and aware hand of a human being, therefore subject to errors, but to the immense abilities of computers capable of always making the best decision?

For some prestigious design companies, coexistence between human designers and AI is already a reality. This is the case of Olesinski Design, a prestigious English design house that has been exploiting the enormous potential given by AI for its projects for years, combining it with the skills of its expert designers.

The Olesinski Design case

Renowned for being responsible for the design of many Princess Yachts motor yachts, the Olesinski Design studio, based on the Isle of Wight, has always been at the forefront in using advanced programs to design their models.

For some years now, the company has been integrating a type of artificial intelligence to accelerate the development process of the hull through 3D modeling. 

To achieve this goal, Olesinski has created a dedicated team of people and a new research and development department led by Bill Edwards and dedicated exclusively to using artificial intelligence.

For the CEO, Justin Olesinski, this technology also offers advantages in terms of interaction with the customer, making it possible, in a short time, to present multiple solutions regarding the design of the hull. 

Similarly, the AI can promptly remedy if the customer requests some changes, quickly presenting alternative solutions.

How does artificial intelligence work in superyacht design?

It starts with creating multiple hull models through computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations. These simulations allow designers to see how different hull models perform with varying parameters of design and conditions. Therefore, the company can produce several surrogate models of the same hull and can predict their performance without having to perform further simulations. This results in a significant advantage in terms of time and money saved.

Olesinski Design then explains how a second valuable use of AI is the production of yacht interior layouts. Artificial intelligence requires specific parameters to be entered, such as a certain number of cabins, a certain number of bathrooms, the galley positioning, the crew quarters, and so on. The software will then provide many possible layouts that meet the predetermined criteria much more efficiently than any human designer could do.

Likewise, any modification to the yacht’s length or internal design generates an almost immediate response from the AI.

What is left for the human designer’s “hands”?

So, if the AI can autonomously produce many hulls and layouts prototypes suited to the customer’s needs and, if necessary, make changes, at which stage of the process is the human designer intervention still required?

Both Edwards and Olesinski have obvious ideas about this. In their experience, human intervention is still indispensable when making decisions about the finer details of a project. Details include the color of a particular fabric, the type of door handle, and the choice of one type of wood rather than another.

Therefore, once the big blocks from the pre-concept and ideation phase have been established, man’s hand is still more than necessary, and it will be, according to the two experts, for a long time.

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