What is the future of luxury yacht charter when it comes to autonomous superyachts? Will autonomous yachts become a reality in the world of luxury yacht vacations? Do superyacht captains have to worry about their positions in the industry? These, and many other similar questions come to mind when talking about the future of superyacht technology and autonomous yachts – wether in the sector of private yacht ownership or luxury yacht charter.
Driverless cars have become a reality, with Google currently testing its Google Self-Driving Car (SDC), a new concept that has neither a steering wheel nor pedals, which Google plans to make available to the public possibly next year. But how long will it take for completely ‘driveless’ superyachts to become an everyday reality? Mike Blake, president and founder of Palladium Technologies and a driverless car fan, spoke in front of a large audience of superyacht professionals at the 2015 Superyacht Forum, addressing the subject of autonomous yachts of the future. “I see full automation – that is, with no captain on the bridge – as a reality in four or five years.” Said Mr Blake in an interview with SuperyachtNews.
So, what would happen to the Captain and the crew aboard? Will there be no need for a Captain? There is a steady decrease in navigation-related tasks aboard superyachts, as the on board technology, such as autopilots, become more and more sophisticated. Perhaps superyacht Captains won’t ever be made redundant, but their roles could change to accommodate the requirements on board these futuristic vessels.
Ultimately, it might come down to the owner to decide what type of vessel he or she would like to build. What impact could it have on the world of superyacht charter, where guests are used to constant attention and impeccable service, and most of all the sense of safety and security achieved by the presence of a captain? We think, this change is inevitable as the world continuously develops and becomes more and more automated. Only the future can give us answers to all these questions once the various theories are put to practice.
We know that other industries, such as the aviation industry and train transport already use autonomous technology in their vehicles, so it is only a matter of time before we see luxury superyachts cruising without captains’ intervention as a ‘normality’.
Autonomous Boats a Reality?
One of the autonomous superyacht-sized vessels currently under development and construction is the 100ft MARS – The Mayflower Autonomous Research Ship. The futuristic new trimaran developed by Shuttleworth Design in partnership with the Plymouth University, will sail across the Atlantic Ocean completely unmanned. It will be equipped with number of drones, enabling it to conduct experiments along the route. The Atlantic crossing is scheduled for 2020, marking the 400th anniversary of the original Mayflower sail in from Plymouth to the North American continent.
There are a number of smaller autonomous boats either in development or under construction, however we hope to see new and exciting autonomous superyacht designs and concepts come to light in the near future!