IBM Joins Mayflower Autonomous Ship Project

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

October 16, 2019

Pic: IBM

Pic: IBM

International technology giant IBM has joined a global consortium of partners, led by marine research organisation ProMare, that are building an unmanned, fully-autonomous ship that will cross the Atlantic on the fourth centenary of the original Mayflower voyage in September 2020.

A new Mayflower will set sail 400 years after the historic voyage, this time using AI and other advanced technologies, the American IT major said.

The Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) will use IBM’s AI, advanced servers, cloud and edge computing technologies to navigate autonomously and avoid ocean hazards as it makes its way from Plymouth, England to Plymouth, Massachusetts. During the 12-day voyage, the ship will be powered mainly by wind and solar energy.

"Putting a research ship to sea can cost tens of thousands of dollars or pounds a day and is limited by how much time people can spend onboard – a prohibitive factor for many of today's marine scientific missions," said Brett Phaneuf, a Founding Board Member of ProMare and Co-Director of the Mayflower Autonomous Ship project (together with fellow Board Member Fredrik Soreide).

"With this project, we are pioneering a cost-effective and flexible platform for gathering data that will help safeguard the health of the ocean and the industries it supports," he added.

The vessel will carry three research pods containing an array of sensors and scientific instrumentation that scientists will use to advance understanding in a number of vital areas such as maritime cybersecurity, marine mammal monitoring, sea level mapping and ocean plastics. The work will be coordinated by the University of Plymouth, UK, who are at the forefront of marine and maritime research, with support from IBM and ProMare.

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