Is AI Going To Kill The Yacht Design Industry?

  • Posted August 21, 2023

It all sounds a bit doom and gloom doesn’t it?! The papers speak of AI taking over, being more intelligent than the human race and leading to our demise by the end of the decade.

Is it possible? Yes!

Is it likely? Maybe less so…

What it is going to do however is enable huge savings in time and energy for certain tasks, but will this be at the sacrifice of swathes of jobs worldwide. This is a possibility for sure. Certain duties will no longer be needed. Data analysis, forecasting, creative writing and much more can now be automated and generated in a fraction of the time and this will ultimately lead to employers replacing expensive and unreliable staff with AI.

A good friend recently posted a series of images on her social media of yacht designs using AI. Within less than 60 seconds, the program was able to generate cabin designs and even a whole yacht, having been given a couple of keywords. Something that could take a design house days and a team of people to create has been generated in seconds. Let that sink in…

The design spiral of a yacht can take years. Numerous client meetings, sketches and renderings to reach a point the client is happy so that the studio can then go off and create GAs, CAD models and production drawings.

On a larger project, this could involve a studio of 10-15 people working tirelessly for weeks to produce something that aligns with an owner’s vision… and now the client can basically come up with their own concepts from the luxury of their expensive leather sofa in their sprawling home and sideline the initial creative role of a Yacht Designer.

Are there upsides? Well yes. One of the largest is the saving in international travel from Designer and/or client back and forth. Another could be that the studio isn’t wrapped up in generating various concepts and will receive a much more engaged client ready to move forwards with a project that they can start on immediately.

Likewise, I don’t believe that AI is quite at the point yet of being able to take on technical design projects such as general arrangements, systems routing and ultimately 2D CAD. Where there is extensive input required to plan spaces, route cables and pipes and account for NVH, there will still be a big push for technical engineering expertise.

If you’re a sketch wizard however, or a rendering expert, should you feel threatened? I possibly would be.

It’s been interesting taking feedback from the industry too. Technology will always be age related. The older guard are very against the concept of a computer taking on the creative process, but the more up and coming Designers are embracing this huge technological advance and are using it to rapidly conceptualise their ideas.

So where will we see yacht design go from here. Will we see more wacky ideas, crazy concepts that defy engineering? Or will we see design houses slashing their project timelines and bringing projects to market 6 months sooner?

I remain a skeptic, but what do you think?