What superintelligent yachting could mean for your next new build

Written by Parisa Hashempour

If you thought artificial intelligence (AI) was the stuff of your favourite science-fiction film, think again. The pace of technological development and machine learning is ramping up around the world. So it should come as no surprise that the brilliant brains behind our favourite yachts are jumping on board with this futuristic vision.

One of the industry’s front-runners in this realm is DLBA Naval Architects, who has been busy working on a new superyacht concept: the 58-metre superyacht TEMPO. With exterior lines by SDG, TEMPO has been developed as an autonomous yacht where artificial intelligence (AI) dramatically enhances an owner’s experience on board.   Project Tempo exterior design“The potential for impressive and boundary-pushing progress across all aspects of yachting is at our fingertips,” says Jeff Bowles, director of the naval architecture firm DLBA in the US. “Even Volvo Penta now has self-docking capability on its IPS systems, which was only used on the most expensive Kongsberg-equipped vessels ten years ago.”

DLBA has leveraged technology to create TEMPO through a combination of rules-based machine learning and model based reasoning. This encompasses four core elements:

  • Autonomous prognosis 
  • Autonomous diagnosis 
  • Autonomous mitigation 
  • Novel maintenance strategies 

DLBA Naval Architects AI technology marketingRules-based machine learning

Rules-based machine learning (ML) is used to enhance traditional failure trend analysis. With machine learning, an autonomous system (and, in this case, your future high-tech yacht) can rapidly process thousands of data points to identify early warning signs of system failure and respond in real time. This technology includes learning algorithms that make it possible for the controller to create its own rules over time that presage failure modes in ways never conceived of by human operators.DLBA Naval Architects marketing Model based reasoning

Unlike other forms of fault detection and management, model based reasoning (MBR) doesn’t depend on large data sets and hundreds of hours of run time. TEMPO uses model based reasoning to anticipate and manage novel failure modes that were not previously experienced or identified during design and not directly observed by instrumented devices.

MBR uses models of the interconnected mechanical electrical systems (a digital twin of the onboard systems) to predict sensor responses to nominal system commands or to test hypotheses. When expected sensor responses do not match nominal values, MBR looks to identify the most probable scenario for failure. The computer works to figure out the best response through hypothetical trial and error in ways that regular yachts simply can’t. 

Of course, this is cutting-edge stuff – but that’s not the only reason you should consider investing in a yacht like TEMPO. TEMPO is not just about autonomy for autonomy’s sake. In the long term, the benefits promise to be transformational. Big data will allow early adopters to not only reduce costs, streamline operations and manage risks better, but also accelerate growth and fuel innovation. Other benefits of having an intelligent superyacht include:

Autonomous prognosis 

Algorithms, combined with large-scale machine-to-machine (M2M) communication allow TEMPO to automatically handle faults during operation, and in some cases to prevent those faults from ever occurring in the first place. The heart of TEMPO is improved engineering reliability and an enhanced three-stage Condition Based Maintenance+ (CBM+) capability that utilises a combination of rules-based machine learning and model-based reasoning.

Autonomous diagnosis 

Autonomous diagnosis is the ability to use real-time health diagnosis to detect existing faults in your superyacht. Together, prognosis and diagnosis produce TEMPO’s CBM+ situational awareness of its own internal world model. Take a simple water pump, for example. A few minutes before the pump fails, it might start to overheat and give off smoke. An engineer is unlikely to notice these symptoms until it’s already too late, but machines that have ‘learnt’ the normal operational parameters can flag up divergences before each phase of deterioration occurs. 

Then there is the fact that scheduled surveys often bear no relation to the actual condition of onboard equipment. TEMPO uses sensors to monitor, capture and analyse data from multiple systems in real time to help create diagnostics in advance, allowing for correction before potential faults occur.  

Autonomous mitigation

Once the root cause of failure has been identified and analysed, CBM+’s third stage, autonomous mitigation, recommends (or if permitted, executes) the autonomous mitigation measures that reconstitute degraded performance. This may involve reconfiguring the propulsion system, engaging redundant systems, using bypass configurations, or simply minimising the use of vulnerable sub-systems. DLBA company Novel maintenance strategies 

Because autonomous doesn’t mean unmanned, TEMPO represents an example of human-machine teaming between owners and crew and the yacht’s systems which can combine to promote a safe and efficient working environment. 

Thanks to AI, systems like CBM+benefit from built-in health monitoring which saves the crew one of their many regular tasks. When the yacht is operational and all systems are active, the sheer volume of information to be monitored can be overwhelming, which is where computing power can be harnessed to streamline the process. The system is also able to avoid any major corrective maintenance works and keep the superyacht ready for her owner to board and enjoy at any time.

Coupled with TEMPO’s organic robotic inspection remotes, shore-based casualty control centres and campaign maintenance teams, these AI and data-driven CBM+ technologies all help the owner have a stress-free and uninterrupted time on board which, after all, is what it’s all about.DLBA Naval Architects AI technology marketingAutomatic pilot mode 

Buckle-up yachties, captain-less yachts represent the transportation trend set to take over the world of travel – but not just yet. Leading on from their predecessors, autonomous ships will likely start to untether from their human supervisors in the coming years, with AI poised to replace tasks, not jobs. As the masterminds behind TEMPO explain, artificial intelligence can take the superyacht experience to the next level when applied to three main elements in the meantime: autonomous navigation, equipment health monitoring, and mechanical and electrical system automation. DLBA Naval Architects marketing Technology safe from security breaches

To alleviate another burden for the crew, DLBA has developed TEMPO to include integrated cybersecurity. Systems are assessed for vulnerabilities and hardened against potential attacks by encrypting communication channels against malicious and unintentional misconfigurations and data compromises.

Although much of the AI technology is already available, regulation is moving at a slower pace. However, with builders such as Rossetti Superyachts having already reported that its R&D department is investigating the feasibility of remote M2M (machine-to-machine) technology on yachts, it may not be long before we are likely to see the first intelligent superyacht on the water – with regulations forced to keep up. The future of yachting on its way.

For more information, visit the DLBA website here, or attend the company’s upcoming webinar on the topic. 



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