Artificial Intelligence: Autonomous Mayflower’s Transatlantic Voyage Cut Short After Glitch

June 21, 2021 | Artificial Intelligence, News

The Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS400) set off from the U.K. on June 15.

The Mayflower, a crewless, captain-less trimaran, which embarked on a landmark, fully autonomous transatlantic crossing on June 15, has had to return to base after suffering a glitch, said to be minor. A collaboration between research organization Promare and IBM (NYSE: IBM), the Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS400) was to dock at Plymouth, Mass., the town where pilgrim travelers settled in 1620, after crossing the Atlantic. (AutoEvolution)


The tri-hulled research vessel uses IBM’s automation, AI, and edge computing technologies to assess its status, environment, and mission and make decisions about what to do next while at sea.

Over the three-week, 3,500 mile journey, the craft would have helped scientists gather the data they need to study issues affecting ocean health including ocean acidification, microplastics, and marine mammal conservation.

“MAS400 has developed a small mechanical problem and is going back to base so we investigate further. We hope to get turned around and on our way as soon as possible,” says a message to viewers who attempt to look up the craft’s progress.

“It’s disappointing,” said Brett Phaneuf, co-founder of the ocean research nonprofit Promare and co-director of the Mayflower Autonomous Ship project to The Washington Post. “We still don’t know exactly what happened. But out of an abundance of caution, we have to get her back.”

According to the BBC, Phaneuff confirmed that the AI systems worked perfectly, however.

“We will assess, repair, and go again.”

Related Story:  An AI-Enabled Ship With A Chatbot But No Captain Will Cross The Atlantic

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