Crewless robotic Mayflower ship reaches Plymouth Rock

PLYMOUTH, Mass. – A crewless robotic boat retracing the 1620 sea voyage of the Mayflower has landed close to Plymouth Rock.

The modern Mayflower Autonomous Ship met with an escort boat because it approached the Massachusetts shoreline Thursday, greater than 400 years after its namesake’s historic journey from England.

It was towed into Plymouth Harbor — per U.S. Coast Guard guidelines for crewless vessels — and docked close to a reproduction of the unique Mayflower that introduced the Pilgrims to America.

Piloted by synthetic intelligence know-how, the 50-foot (15-meter) trimaran didn’t have a captain, navigator or any people on board.

The solar-powered ship’s first try to cross the Atlantic in 2021 was beset with technical issues, forcing it again to its dwelling port of Plymouth, England — the identical place the Pilgrim settlers sailed from in 1620.


It set off from the southwest English coast once more in April however mechanical difficulties diverted it to Portugal’s Azores islands after which to Canada.

“Once you don’t have anyone onboard, you clearly can’t do the mechanical, bodily fixes which are wanted,” mentioned Rob Excessive, a software program government at IBM serving to to work on the mission. “That’s additionally a part of the educational course of.”

On Monday, it departed Halifax, Nova Scotia for a profitable 4-day journey to Plymouth Harbor.

Nonprofit marine analysis group ProMare labored with IBM to construct the ship and has been utilizing it to gather knowledge about whales, microplastics air pollution and for different scientific analysis. Small autonomous experimental vessels have crossed the Atlantic earlier than however researchers describe it as the primary ship of its measurement to take action.


The voyage’s completion “means we will begin analyzing knowledge from the ship’s journey” and dig into the AI system’s efficiency, Excessive mentioned. He mentioned the prospect of such crewless vessels navigating the seas on a steady foundation will make it simpler to gather “all of the sorts of issues that marine scientists care about.”

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