Autonomous Mayflower reaches American shores—in Canada

Technicians decrease the Mayflower Autonomous Ship into the water at its launch web site on Sept. 14, 2020, for its first outing on water since being in-built Turnchapel, Plymouth south west England. The smooth autonomous trimaran docked in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Sunday, June 5, 2022, after greater than 5 weeks crossing the Atlantic Ocean from England, in accordance with tech firm IBM, which helped construct it. Credit score: AP Picture/Alastair Grant, File

A crewless robotic boat that had tried to retrace the 1620 sea voyage of the Mayflower has lastly reached the shores of North America—this time in Canada as a substitute of the Massachusetts coast the place its namesake landed greater than 400 years in the past.

The smooth autonomous trimaran docked in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Sunday, after greater than 5 weeks crossing the Atlantic Ocean from England, in accordance with tech firm IBM, which helped construct it.

Piloted by synthetic intelligence expertise, the 50-foot (15-meter) Mayflower Autonomous Ship didn’t have a captain, navigator or any people on board—although it may need helped to have a mechanic.

“The expertise that makes up the autonomous system labored completely, flawlessly,” mentioned Rob Excessive, an IBM computing government concerned within the undertaking. “Mechanically, we did run into issues.”

Its first try on the trans-Atlantic crossing to Plymouth, Massachusetts, in June 2021 was beset by technical glitches, forcing the boat to return to its dwelling port of Plymouth, England.

It set off once more from England almost a 12 months in a while April 27, certain for Virginia—however a generator downside diverted it to Portugal’s Azores islands, the place a staff member flew in to carry out emergency repairs. Extra troubles on the open sea got here in late Could when the U.S.-bound boat developed an issue with the charging circuit for the generator’s starter batteries.

AI software program is getting higher at serving to self-driving machines perceive their environment and pilot themselves, however most robots can’t heal themselves when the {hardware} goes awry.

Nonprofit marine analysis group ProMare, which labored with IBM to construct the ship, switched to a back-up navigation pc on Could 30 and charted a course to Halifax—which was nearer than any U.S. vacation spot. The boat’s webcam on Sunday morning confirmed it being towed by a bigger boat because the Halifax skyline neared—a security requirement underneath worldwide maritime guidelines, IBM mentioned.


AI-powered Mayflower, beset with glitch, returns to England


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