PLYMOUTH, England—The Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS400) has departed on its transatlantic voyage. It hopes to arrive in Cape Cod, MA, within three weeks.
The 49-foot-long trimaran is equipped with 30 sensors, 15 edge devices and six cameras that will be monitored by a land-based crew. GPS, lidar, radar and other devices will also help the new-age Mayflower safely navigate around buoys, cargo ships and other ocean hazards.
With no human captain or onboard crew, the research vessel uses automation, artificial intelligence and edge computing technology developed by IBM engineers. The ship will assess its status, environment and mission, and make decisions about what to do next while at sea.
MAS400 will help scientists gather data they need to advance understanding of key global issues affecting ocean health, including acidification, microplastics and marine mammal conservation.
The 5-ton ship is powered by a hybrid propulsion system that uses a solar-powered electric motor, in addition to batteries and a diesel generator for emergency backup power.