Ship boat

Autonomous ship Mayflower completes its voyage

small unmanned boat

The automated ship Mayflower did not reach its intended destination, but still made an impressive unmanned ocean crossing.
Photo: IBM

The autonomous vehicle takeover attempt reached the high seas.

Two different (at least partially) self-contained ships have made landmark voyages over the past few days. But both milestones come with big caveats: one ran into trouble with no one on board and ended up shortening its journey, and the other still relied on human judgment about half the time. .

The entirely unmanned autonomous ship Mayflower (MAS400) docked in Canada on Sunday. The boat, partially funded by IBMstarted in Plymouth UK April 27.

“After a 40-day, 3,500-mile voyage, the Mayflower Autonomous Ship has successfully completed its mission to cross the Atlantic. She arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Sunday, June 5,” said the project website. However, the MAS400 was scheduled to land in Virginia, more than 1,200 miles southwest of the mainland, and the ship faced multiple mechanical difficulties throughout its ocean voyage.

The trip from the UK to Canada was the second attempt to take the MAS400 across the ocean. Her first trip in 2021 was scrapped due to technical problems. Although this year’s trip went better, there were still problems. At first the ship was diverted to the Azores in Portugal for in-person repairs after a switch failure. Then there was a “problem with the generator starter battery charging circuit” that took the MAS400 away from its original intended destination, according to the boat. own Linkedin page updates.

Separately, on June 2, a massive tanker named Prism Courage landed in South Korea’s South Chungcheong Province after a 33-day journey from Freeport, Texas. About half of this distance was covered without the help of the ship’s human crew, according to Hyundai subsidiary Avikus, which developed the steering technology.

Avikus called this accomplishment the first of its kind. The company further claimed that its automated HiNAS 2.0 system helped the boat avoid more than 100 collisions with nearby vessels and that the voyage was 7% more fuel efficient and emitted 5% less greenhouse gases while driving. due to the technologically optimized route.

Most of the Prism Courage’s journey was across the ocean, but human navigation was still needed near ports, in the most congested sections of the sea and at choke points like the Panama Canal, according to a report of Engage. Regardless of the limitations of steering technology, Avikus intends to market HiNAS 2.0 by the end of the year and will expand beyond shipping to other vessels like cruise ships and yachts.

Can we have Boaty McBoatfacebut we don’t yet have an AI brain powerful enough to handle all the challenges of the open ocean without human help.