Robotic ships are the latest trend in ocean exploration. In August, we wrote about an automated 12-meter boat that successfully completed a 22-day-long mission to map an area of the seafloor in the Atlantic—without a crew.
Today, we bring you news about another robotic vessel that is getting set to embark on an epic journey across the Atlantic.
Just like the ship that crossed over from England to the New World 400 years ago, this solar-powered marine vessel is called the Mayflower. Well, it’s official name is the Mayflower Autonomous Ship, since, as the monicker suggests, there will be no human captain at the helm. What the ship does have, however, is an artificial intelligence navigation system developed by MarineAI and based on technologies from computing giant IBM.
According to New Atlas, this AI Captain makes use of data from onboard radar, GPS, AIS, nautical charts, attitude sensors, a fathometer, a vehicle management system, and weather data from The Weather Company.
“Able to scan the horizon for possible hazards, make informed decisions and change its course based on a fusion of live data, the Mayflower Autonomous Ship has more in common with a modern bank than its 17th-century namesake,” said IBM’s Andy Stanford-Clark.
The ship recently left the port of Devon and will first undergo six months of sea trials before attempting a crossing of the Atlantic next year. The ultimate goal of the project is to gather precious environmental data about the ocean.