IBM’s AI-powered Mayflower Autonomous Ship crosses the Atlantic Ocean

A completely crewless ship helmed by an AI pilot, the Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS), has reportedly crossed the Atlantic ocean, retracing the historic journey that the Mayflower ship undertook 400 years ago, as per the project managers.

The ship has completed the 2,700 mile-long journey, which started from Plymouth in the UK, ending at Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada on 5th June. Although MAS was due to dock in Massachusetts, USA, like its predecessor, its route was diverted to Canada so that engineers could investigate some issues that the ship had encountered while traveling at sea.

The project bosses stated that the vessel will be staying in Halifax for around a week or two.

The solar-powered trimaran—a boat having 3 hulls—is 15 meters long and can sail at a speed of up to 10 knots (20kmph). Its navigation is powered by an artificial intelligence present on board, developed by tech giant IBM. The Ai uses fifty sensors and six cameras to effectively navigate itself through the sea.

The managers stated that the reason behind the creation of MAS was to showcase how far technology has come since the time Pilgrim Fathers set sail for the New World and settled in North America from England.

MAS set off on 29th April from the UK and was expected to complete the journey in around three weeks, but following certain technical issues during its journey, the ship was rerouted to take itself to Canada.

Brett Phaneuf, Director of the project, stated that the IBM technology worked as expected and that the boat is still programmed to sail towards Plymouth and then to Washington DC.

Phaneuf added that MAS’s journey has helped the team understand a great deal about building, designing, and operating a ship of such a nature, and about the future of the maritime sector.

The original Mayflower, which set sail in 1620 and took over two months to complete the journey, was a 100 ft (30 meter) long triple-masted wooden vessel that had sails made of canvas. The ship carried 102 passengers, with a crew of around 30 people. The maximum speed at which the ship sailed was 3 knots (6kmph).

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Rashi Thakkar

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