Mayflower autonomous ship launches

September 16, 2020 //By Rich Pell
Mayflower autonomous ship launches
Tech giant IBM and marine research non-profit organization ProMare have announced the completion and launch of an AI and solar powered marine research vessel that will traverse oceans gathering vital environmental data.

The Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS), a fully-autonomous trimaran, was launched into the waters off the coast of Plymouth, England. The launch follows two years of design, construction, and training of the ship's AI models.

Designed to provide a safe, flexible, and cost-effective way of gathering data about the ocean, the new-generation Mayflower, say the organizations, promises to transform oceanography by working in tandem with scientists and other autonomous vessels to help understand critical issues such as global warming, micro-plastic pollution, and marine mammal conservation. ProMare is coordinating the scientific studies working with IBM Research and a number of leading scientific organizations.

"Able to scan the horizon for possible hazards, make informed decisions, and change its course based on a fusion of live data, the Mayflower Autonomous Ship 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."

The ship features an "AI Captain" built by ProMare and IBM developers that gives the MAS the ability to sense, think, and make decisions at sea with no human captain or onboard crew. The new class of marine AI is underpinned by IBM's latest advanced edge computing systems, automation software, computer vision technology, and Red Hat Open Source software. The ship features six AI-powered cameras, 30 sensors, 15 edge devices, and zero humans on board.

To enable followers around the world to stay updated with the MAS as it undertakes its various missions, IBM and ProMare have launched a new interactive web portal - the MAS400 portal . Built by IBM iX, the business design arm of IBM Services, the portal is designed to provide real-time updates about the ship's location, environmental conditions, and data from its various research projects. Live weather data

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