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All images: Midjourney

Talking point: the results of using AI to design a superyacht

22 January 2024

Artificial intelligence is a hot topic in the design world right now, and superyachts haven't escaped the robot revolution that's filling our social media feeds with weird and wacky boats. In the latest BOAT Briefing podcast, features director Charlotte Hogarth-Jones asks AI to design her a superyacht based on a series of requirements. She sits down with BOAT editor-in-chief Stewart Campbell to discuss the results of her AI deep dive... 

Artificial intelligence will be part of the keynote speech at the upcoming Superyacht Design Festival, with AI expert Neil Leach taking to the stage to discuss its potential and pitfalls. The event will be held in Kitzbühel, Austria between 28 - 30 January and there is still time to learn everything you need to know about the Superyacht Design Festival and buy tickets.

1. A 60m J-Class inspired sailing yacht

"The interiors are rather nice"

Charlotte: I asked for a 60-metre sailing yacht influenced by the J Class – it should have a private owner's deck with a Jacuzzi looking out at the ocean and an open-air cinema. The interiors should have interesting ceramics, cosy fabrics, light woods and not be too bland. It didn’t actually pick up on most of that. You can tweak the terms, though and make it more cosy, include more textures.
Stewart: Practically, anyone with a good knowledge of yachting will long to some issues with the design. But as a concept, a source of inspiration, there are definitely some cues here that are quite useful. The interiors are rather nice.
Charlotte: I actually didn’t like the interior. I like the exterior but I don’t like the bright lighting.
Stewart: I suppose that would help to narrow down what you don't like if you were actually designing this. 

2. Superyacht of the future

"AI tends to interpret the future as very big and bulbous"

Charlotte: Apart from the interior, I thought this was a bit silly. [AI] tends to interpret the future as very big and bulbous in every case, and also quite space-themed.
Stewart: My initial thought is is this would be basically impossible to build, but it’s all very flowing with huge areas of glazing, lots of outside areas. This would be an expensive undertaking. A brave shipyard would have to take this on. It looks almost sci-fi.

3. A superyacht for an owner in their 60s who loves travelling in cold climates

"Interesting staircase design"

Charlotte: I also specified that that yacht should have a library space and feature dark wood and cosy textures. This one was my favourite.
Stewart: How long did it take you to do this?
Charlotte: As long as it took me to say [the parameters]. It just spits them out. The design, to me, looks like it’s just put a library image inside a superyacht.
Stewart: It’s a lovely warm interior with lots of natural woods, not overly varnished. Interesting staircase designs. I like the coffee table. This is definitely quite a useful tool for communicating particular ideas to a design studio.

4. A superyacht for a 90s music lover that features neon pink and leopard print in its design

"A nightmarish neon Barbie/bubblegum confection"

Stewart: I'm a 90's music lover.
Charlotte:  Do you love that? To me, this looks like a Barbie superyacht. You can see why everyone’s enjoying playing with this on social media, definitely the more wacky [the parameters] you put in there, the more entertaining the images, because people don’t see superyachts like that because who’s ever going to build that?
Stewart: This is a nightmarish neon Barbie/bubblegum confection. I can’t see this being commissioned in a hurry. But the fact that it took a heartbeat to produce these results is the most amazing thing.
Charlotte: I think this will open the doors to people who you’d never assume would buy a superyacht – they can play around, they can imagine, they can dip a toe into what’s normally quite a closed circuit. That'll be interesting to see.

5. A yacht for BOAT International editor Stewart Campbell

"This one looks a bit Doggersbank-influenced"

Stewart: It's interesting, some of the swoops and the shapes. You can see some Harrison Eidsgaard in here, you can see some Turquoise. There's an explorer one as well, it looks a bit Doggersbank-influenced. I quite like that.
Charlotte: What I'd like to know is, do you think this software will develop to the point where you can limit these results to conform with what's possible within the realms of naval architecture? Or if you can set a budget and start to restrict what it spits out? I don't know if that exists, but I don't think so. I guess that will be a game-changer when people can start tailoring things beyond churning out rough ideas.
Stewart: I'm going to be really interested to hear this keynote at the Superyacht Design Festival. There are just hundreds of unanswered questions. 

New episodes of the BOAT Briefing podcast  are released weekly on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Catch up on the headlines, listen to exclusive interviews and get a snapshot of the industry with our data segment. 

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