Fully Autonomous Ship With AI Captain Sets Sail Today From UK

Mayukh Bari16 September 2020 3:48PM IST
3 min read176

A fully autonomous ship without any crew onboard sets sail today from Plymouth. This is the world's first autonomous transatlantic voyage to gather scientific data about the ocean.

The ship is named as 'Mayflower Autonomous Ship' (MAS). Last week the makers (posing as the AI captain) tweeted,

After a couple of years of (Machine learning) training, It's finally time for me to move to my permanent home on the Mayflower Autonomous Ship. Who's as excited as I am? #autonomousship #ai #edge #aicaptain #Ocean #Sustainability #research

The full-size, fully-autonomous research ship has been created through a collaboration between nonprofit marine research organisation Promare and IBM. Many other scientific organisations also invested in this project. The ship is set to spend the next six months venturing the seas.

The ship is launched today on September 16, from Plymouth in the UK. No route is fed into the system. The ship will self-navigate with the help of its intelligent AI captain onboard. The AI will decide its every move, having been trained with a range of images of things it might encounter while at sea, such as seagulls, boats and icebergs.

The AI is also capable of determining the legal and safest routes after considering the international borders. Andy Stanford-Clark, chief technology officer for IBM in the UK, explained to the BBC that the AI will recognise what to avoid, including both physical barriers and potentially dangerous weather events.

While on its journey, the MAS will use onboard equipment to gather data that aims to advance research in plastic pollution and global warming. With no crew on board, the entirety of the ship can be dedicated to science.

The ship is named after the original 'Mayflower' - the ship that transported the first English Puritans from England to New World (America) in 1620. This AI powered voyage will mark the 400th anniversary of the famous 'Mayflower'.