Powered by an AI, this electric boat has crossed the Atlantic alone

The success of the Mayflower Autonomous Ship is a reminder that the Autonomous Navy is approaching with a full fleet – although the craft in question is solar-powered.

In 1620, the legendary Mayflower embarked on a historic voyage with the first English settlers on the American continent. Now an important date in the history of what is called the United States, and which is regularly celebrated on both shores of the sea.

And more than 400 years later, one of our most memorable memorabilia since the Mayflower Autonomous Ship was reproduced by the Mayflower Autonomous Ship, is a craft at least as remarkable as its prominent predecessors because it is 100% autonomous, both in terms of navigation and food!

According to the BBC, the project is the result of the work of an international team of engineers and technicians from around ten countries. Aside from its name and ride, this MAS has little to do with the original Mayflower. The luxurious wooden three-masted rope-line has given way to an ultra-modern trimran, extremely light and full of sophisticated technology.

Solar power and autonomous navigation

There is not the slightest sail in this new version. Instead of drawing its energy from the wind, it draws it directly from the sun for a set of photovoltaic panels arranged on the hull. They then come to power a set of electric motors to travel without emitting the slightest greenhouse gas.

However, this is not the first solar-powered ship, far from it. The most striking feature of this MAS is its all over the pilot’s identity. In fact, there were no people on this boat, nor was it remotely controlled. You understand this: the Mayflower Autonomous Ship has sailed alone, like adults, without the slightest human intervention.

Mayflower Autonomous Ship during a test last April. IBM / ProMARE

The space usually reserved for the cabin is used to house about fifty highly advanced sensors. Their role is to gather as much information as possible about the surrounding environment. It has many parameters related to the boat such as its direction, speed or tendency, but it also contains a lot of weather information.

All of this data was used by IBM to feed a system based on artificial intelligence specifically designed for this occasion. Purpose: To bring the boat safely to the port in full autonomy. And MAS is brilliantly successful, or almost. He was able to cross the sea well, but he did not finish his course at the place initially planned; It had to be redirected to Halifax, Canada due to technical problems.

Focus on the autonomous navy worldwide

So it is missed for historical fidelity. On the other hand, it is a box full of technical levels. MAS performed like a boss when left on its own device, and engineers rarely had to intervene without being redirected to Halifax. Also, although it was running at a moderate speed, it broke the original speed record. It took him a big month to complete the crossing, more than two, for the real Mayflower.

In the end, researchers are therefore extremely satisfied with this proof of concept. “This crossing has taught us a lot about the design, construction and operation of such a ship for the future of the Navy.”, Explained Brad Faniuf, Project Director.

The concept now seems almost mature, and we can now imagine that this technology is beginning to gain momentum at high speeds; Within a few years, people and products may be able to cross the English Channel or even the Atlantic in a craft driven primarily by AI. Even if there are still staff on board for safety, at least in the beginning. It remains to be seen whether these self-propelled electric boats will rise as fast as their four-wheeled land equivalent!

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