The crewless, intuitive robotic boat that was retracing the sea voyage of the 1620 Mayflower has landed close to the Plymouth Rock.
The Mayflower Autonomous Ship had come in close contact with an escort boat on Thursday as it was approaching the Massachusetts shoreline almost over 400 years after its namesake’s historic trip had begun in England.
It was towed to the Plymouth Harbor — following the rules of the US Coast Guard for crewless vessels — and successfully docked close to a replica of the original Mayflower that had brought the Pilgrims to America.
Piloted by artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, the 50-foot trimaran did not have a navigator, captain, or any other human on board.
The solar-powered vessel’s maiden attempt to cross the Atlantic was in 202. However, it faced technical glitches that forced it back to the home port in Plymouth, England — the same place from where the Pilgrim settlers had sailed back in 1620.
It departed from the southwest English coast in April but mechanical difficulties had diverted it to the Azores islands in Portugal first and then to Canada. It departed from Halifax in Nova Scotia on Monday for a four-day journey to Plymouth Harbor.
A nonprofit marine research firm named ProMare collaborated with IBM to build the vessel and has been using it to get data on microplastic pollution, whales, and other scientific research.
Small autonomous experimental vessels have passed the Atlantic before but researchers refer to it as the first-ever ship to do so.
The voyage’s completion means that the researchers can begin analyzing data from the ship’s journey and check the AI system’s performance, Rob High, a software executive associated with IBM and working on the project, mentioned. He added the prospect of crewless vessels navigating seas continually will make it easier to collect things marine scientists passionately care about.
References: Forbes, Tech Xplore, The Irish News