Mayflower Autonomous Ship begins transatlantic voyage

The Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) has started its historic transatlantic crossing as part of the Mayflower 400 commemorations.


The MAS is now in international waters as it crosses the Atlantic ocean to the United States, ocean research non-profit ProMare and IBM revealed.

Photo: IBM

Following daily briefings led by IBM’s The Weather Company, the ship departed with the prospect of favourable weather from Turnchapel Wharf, Plymouth, UK at 4am on 15 June.

With no human captain or onboard crew, the research vessel uses IBM’s automation, AI and computing technologies to assess its status, environment and mission and make decisions about what to do next while at sea.

People from all over the world can follow the ship’s progress via the mission dashboard which includes live video, maps and data streaming.

The journey across the Atlantic ocean is expected to take approximately three weeks. If successful, the ship is expected to land in Provincetown, Massachusetts, then make its way to the US port of Plymouth.

The pioneering mission is the result of years of work and a global collaboration between marine research non-profit ProMare, IBM and dozens of partners from across industry and academia.

Designed to forge a cost-effective and flexible platform for gathering data about the ocean, MAS400 will help scientists gather the data they need to advance understanding of key global issues affecting ocean health including ocean acidification, microplastics and marine mammal conservation.

The project aims to aid the development of fully autonomous AI systems and applications for use in a variety of industries such as shipping, oil and gas, telecommunications, security and defence, fishing and aquaculture.

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