A new fully autonomous trimaran, Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS), has been launched in Plymouth, following two years of design, construction and training.
The solar powered marine research vessel which will traverse oceans gathering vital environmental data.
With a hull built in Poland, it’s designed to provide a safe, flexible and cost-effective way of gathering data about the ocean, and work in tandem with scientists and other autonomous vessels to help understand critical issues such as global warming, micro-plastic pollution and marine mammal conservation.
The trimaran features an AI Captain built by ProMare and IBM developers which gives MAS the ability to sense, think and make decisions at sea with no human captain or onboard crew.
“Able to scan the horizon for possible hazards, make informed decisions and change its course based on a fusion of live data, MAS has more in common with a modern bank than its 17th century namesake,” says Andy Stanford-Clark, chief technology officer, IBM UK & Ireland. “With its ability to keep running in the face of the most challenging conditions, this small ship is a microcosm for every aspiring 21st century business.”
An interactive web portal, MAS400, has been built allowing followers to stay informed. This includes a seven-armed, stowaway octopus chatbot called Artie, who claims to be hitching a ride on the ship. Artie has, apparently, been trained to provide information about MAS and its adventures in a lively and accessible format.
MAS will spend the next six months in sea trials and undertake various research missions and voyages before attempting to cross the Atlantic in Spring 2021.