The topic of artificial intelligence (AI) has been quietly rumbling away in the background of yachting for the last decade. It draws the most attention in conversations about autonomous yachts. However, one equally fascinating—and less-discussed—application is in superyacht design. Olesinski, the Isle of Wight-based studio, uses the technology to supercharge its designs. We speak with Justin Olesinski (below), the studio’s managing director, about how it’s improving everyone’s experience, including clients.
MegayachtNews.com: In a nutshell, how do you use AI at Olesinski?
Justin Olesinski: For our AI, we are utilizing technology that started its life at the University of Southampton. We have an amazing, growing AI team including Bill Edwards (our head of R&D) and Thomas Savasta (AI development). Basically, we feed the results of our CFD (computational fluid dynamics) hull simulations into artificial neural networks. These networks are then used as a surrogate model which predicts how a huge range of hulls would perform, without the need to run any further expensive and time-consuming simulations. Excitingly, we can also use AI to produce the layouts for all of our superyachts. You plug in your desired parameters (the number of cabins, the positioning of the galley and crew accommodation, and so on), and then the software will offer you a vast number of possible layouts, automatically disregarding any unsuitable ones, and thus saving us a huge amount of time.
MegayachtNews.com: What are the key benefits of using AI for the studio?
Justin Olesinski: It helps us meet strict project deadlines which previously we might not have, which is an obvious benefit for us, the shipyards we work with, and yacht owners. To put it into context, 15 years ago, we worked on two to three new boats per year. Six years ago, it was three to four boats, and now we do five to six new boats every year. On top of this, we do upgrades on another six boats, and we also have a couple of platform boats in there. This is a total of 15 projects per year.
We have 24 staff at the studio, so that’s basically the equivalent of less than two people having to create their own boat from scratch. This includes the hull structures, layouts, external styling and so on—all to a really high level of detail. To achieve this in such a limited time frame, you just have to innovate and harness what technology can offer. (Editor’s note: The deck layouts above are side-by-side comparisons of what Olesinski’s team designed initially, at top, with AI’s suggested changes beneath.)
MegayachtNews.com: What about those who are nervous or skeptical about the use of AI within yachting?
Justin Olesinski: First things first, AI will never replace the human aspect of superyacht design. As a studio, we are creating beautiful objects for our owners which require a huge amount of creativity and thought, and we are constantly coming up with new ideas. The AI helps us to cut through and speed up the more mundane aspects of design, allowing our team to focus on the rest, using their decades of specialist experience to produce the best possible products.
The use of AI obviously extends far beyond yachting, with many other industries showing an interest and already developing their own systems. Some players outside of yachting have even approached us for input, thanks to our experience in applying this technology.
Speaking personally, I would far rather grab the bull by the horns and play our role in shaping these systems, rather than having them developed elsewhere and having this opportunity taken away from us. We are living in incredibly exciting times for AI, both for our industry and in the wider world.