We live in an era where everything is constantly changing; developments in technology allow the ability to innovate and enhance just about any sector. Because of this, it goes without saying that the way we do (almost) everything is being impacted as a result.
The boating industry is no exception – sailing has come a long way since the days of celestial navigation and wooden and steel structures, but what does the future of this popular leisure activity look like? It is an industry that has been operating the same way for a long time, but Dream Yacht have looked into how aspects such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), electrification, wearable technology and other big technological developments will be impacting and enhancing the way we glide along the seas.
AI and autonomous sailing
AI is transforming and changing the world around us, and is expected to play a huge part in the future of the maritime industry. It is not uncommon for boat builders to team up with car manufacturers – who are increasingly implementing machine learning algorithms which use data to mechanise the way a vehicle is driven. These particular algorithms can provide onboard computers with methods of solving problems that are typically encountered and can therefore be predicted, allowing autonomous driving capabilities.
This is a technique which will be incorporated more often in the future when building boats, allowing them to have autonomous systems or a remote human operator. This capability will help ease navigation, improve safety and save fuel. Large organisations such as Rolls Royce are funding and carrying out research which will support autonomous ship research.
Smart-home integration capabilities
Intelligent solutions used in homes such as security and access controls, home theatres and temperature control systems are more frequently being incorporated on luxury yachts. This modern movement allows voyagers to seamlessly connect their on-board and off-shore lives, thanks to technological developments.
The smart technologies can be used to control lights and room temperature as well as open and close blinds dependant on time and weather – this reduces energy consumption and allows optimum levels of natural light. Other technology can provide and display GPS and navigation data on various screens, allowing onboard guests to be kept aware of current locations and ETAs,
Another development which will transform sailing experiences is Project Loon; Google’s ‘internet in the sky’. The network of high altitude balloons situated on the edge of space work together to provide an internet connection to remote locations across the world. This will allow people on the sea to remain seamlessly connected to those on the land, as well as allow the installation of even more advanced systems onboard to enhance the living space.
Electrification of vessels
A popular automotive trend that is being applied to the boating industry is the electrification of machines. It goes without saying that electric boats are more complicated than electric cars – one of the main implications being that the boat battery life is very hard to predict. Aspects such as weather, wave height and currents aren’t very predictable and all impact the power needed from the boat battery.
Recreational boating has become really popular in recent years, and amongst the people who have taken up this pastime are environmentally-conscious seafarers. People want to enjoy themselves without harming the aquatic ecosystem; which has added more pressure on the capabilities of electrifying boats.
Green technology firms and scientists have introduced several innovations that will change recreational and commercial boating in the near future. Hybrid and electric propulsion systems have many benefits; in addition to reducing emissions and optimising fuel consumption, they are lighter and more compact and have reduced maintenance costs. The use of sustainable technology is currently being tested and on the highest end global race boat programs and there are now many boat builders out there that have embarked on the electric journey.
Almost all of these are already in use in other industries and therefore it is just a matter of time before they are fully adopted in maritime. The boating industry will need to innovate and roll with change or risk being left behind as these technologies will have major impacts and revolutionise experiences.