Captain, Amnesty International! The Mayflower self-guided ship ready to cross the Atlantic

Captain, Amnesty International!  The Mayflower self-guided ship ready to cross the Atlantic

Autonomous ship Mayflower autonomous ship (MAS) ready to cross into the United States, without a captain. or rather; Without a human captain, because the high-tech ship has an AI-driven control system on board, Captain, Amnesty International call. Along the way, she’ll check the condition of the ocean, but will first wait for a nice weather time before leaving.

Four hundred years difference

In 1620, the first English colonists launched the so-called Fathers of pilgrimsFrom Plymouth in the United Kingdom to Plymouth in the United States. Four hundred years later, the futuristic Mayflower Autonomous Ship is preparing to embark on the same pilot voyage in the wake of its historical name, in its honor. “The original Mayflower voyage was about exploring a new world. This project is largely the same. It takes autonomous ships to a new level and opens up countless scientific possibilities,” says Frederick Surried, project leader at the Naval Research Center. Promar In a press release. In close cooperation with the IT giant IBM And many of the science institutes that they have designed “Mayflower 21st Century”.

The differences between two large Mayflowers (c) Promare / IBM (click to enlarge)

Diesel generator

At an average speed of 10 knots, a modern Mayflower will be in about 12 days. Its historical ancestor took about two months. The Trimaran is 15 meters long and 6.2 meters wide with radar, six cameras, GPS antennas, thirty sensors and an aluminum composite housing. The ship weighs about 5 tons. Electricity is provided entirely by a solar powered Li-ion phosphate battery, but there is also a backup diesel generator on board for emergencies. In earlier designs, there was still a wing that could be seen to act as a sail, but in the end it was decided to get the full thrust from two 20 kW electric motors.

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Avoid collisions

Captain, Amnesty InternationalThe artificial captain of the Mayflower Autonomous Ship underwent a two-year training program preserving more than a million marine photos. IBM Deep learningThe system should ensure that Mayflower will learn for life. Even without an internet connection (for example for current weather reports), Mayflower should be able to appreciate its environment, make smart decisions and then act on the basis of these ideas in the shortest time possible, as appropriate to the captain in accordance with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (known Internationally as COLREG). MAS is also able to communicate with other ships. Is collision inevitable after all? Hence, crew safety on board other ships is always of utmost importance. You can see exactly how this works in the video below.

(C) A paraglider


Developments towards unmanned shipping have been going on for some time. Therefore, this is not the first time that a self-guided ship has crossed the Atlantic Ocean. In 2019 SD 1021 Actually crossing east and west. The first prototype of these is seven meters long Unmanned deck vehicles (USV) – known as saildrones – were launched in 2010 and vessels have been tested extensively since.And the Including during a trip around Antarctica in 2019. Bright orange ocean sailors were designed to collect meteorological and ocean data for weeks without a crew.

(C) Promare / IBM

Follow MAS

Mayflower will also report on the health of our oceans, microplastics, and counts of whales and other marine mammals. The sea level and wave energy will also be measured very precisely by means of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and the accelerometer. Combined with video images from high-resolution cameras that capture the waves, this increases insight into currents and the MAS provides valuable information for charging. Through the site, the whole world can see how all this data is collected. You will also find this tracker there. The technicians around MAS are hoping the ship will leave sometime next week, but that depends on the weather.

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Cover photo (C) Promier / IBM

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