Robotics

IBM's autonomous Mayflower ship sets sail across the Atlantic sans crew

IBM's autonomous Mayflower shi...
The Mayflower departing Plymouth, England, for the US
The Mayflower departing Plymouth, England, for the US
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Mayflower infographic
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Mayflower infographic
The main hull of Mayflower under construction
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The main hull of Mayflower under construction
The Mayflower is a trimaran
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The Mayflower is a trimaran
The Mayflower is solar powered
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The Mayflower is solar powered
The Mayflower is fully autonomous
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The Mayflower is fully autonomous
The Mayflower departing Plymouth, England, for the US
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The Mayflower departing Plymouth, England, for the US
Mayflower on sea trials
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Mayflower on sea trials
Rendering of the Mayflower 400
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Rendering of the Mayflower 400
Cutaway of the Mayflower 400
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Cutaway of the Mayflower 400
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IBM's Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS400) has set sail across the Atlantic ocean without a crew or human control. Built and operated in conjunction with ocean research non-profit ProMare and industry partners, the autonomous trimaran left Turnchapel Wharf at Plymouth, England at 4 am GMT on June 15 and is in international waters en route to Plymouth, Massachusetts aiming for initial landfall at Provincetown in about three weeks.

The voyage of the robotic Mayflower follows the path of the original Mayflower, which brought the Pilgrim settlers to New England in 1620. The 50-ft-long (15-m), 20-ft-wide (6.2-m) craft is made of aluminum and carbon composites, displaces five tonnes, and is propelled by a solar-powered hybrid motor with a diesel backup, giving it a top speed of 10 knots (11 mph, 18 km/h).

Supervised by a command center in Plymouth, UK, the Mayflower navigates using over 50 sensors, including six IBM AI Vision cameras and an IBM deep learning system to identify and avoid obstacles, hostile currents, and bad weather while adhering to international navigation rules. Data processing is by onboard computers backed up by an IBM Power Systems AC922 onshore.

The Mayflower is a trimaran
The Mayflower is a trimaran

Onboard is a scientific payload of 1,500 lb (700 kg) that includes acoustic, nutrient, and temperature sensors, as well as water and air samplers. These are gathering scientific data to help with future studies of ocean chemistry, acidification, sea level height and wave patterns; microplastics; and marine mammal conservation, among other topics. In addition, the autonomous technology could find applications in shipping, oil and gas industries, telecommunications, security, defense, fishing, and aquaculture.

The video below discusses the Mayflower voyage and there is a live webcam available for the public to track the ship's progress.

Mayflower

Source: IBM

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5 comments
5 comments
Kpar
And the point is...?
P
Wondering which of these applies to autonomous Mayflower:
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Rule 27 (Vessels not under command or restricted in their ability to manoeuvre)
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(a) A vessel not under command shall exhibit:
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(i) two all-round red lights in a vertical line where they can best be seen;
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(ii) two balls or similar shapes in a vertical line where they can best be seen;
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(iii) when making way through the water, in addition to the lights prescribed in this paragraph, sidelights and a sternlight.
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(b) A vessel restricted in her ability to manoeuvre, except a vessel engaged in mine clearance operations, shall exhibit:
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(i) three all-round lights in a vertical line where they can best be seen. The highest and lowest of these lights shall be red and the middle light shall be white;
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(ii) three shapes in a vertical line where they can best be seen. The highest and lowest of these shapes shall be balls and the middle one a diamond;
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(iii) when making way through the water, a masthead light or lights, sidelights and a sternlight, in addition to the lights prescribed in subparagraph (i);
wolf0579
YAY!!! More people put out of work!!! A new victory for the corporations against the workforce of the world!
nick101
Needs diesel as backup? As an alternative, why not use bolts of cloth sewn into shapes that harness the wind? It's a traditional thing with a proven track record.
XXPepper
"the autonomous technology could find applications in ... oil and gas industries." IBM; always looking forward backward.