Mayflower Autonomous Ship begins transatlantic crossing to the US

Jun 16, 2021

The Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) started its historic transatlantic voyage on Tuesday, 15 June as part of the Mayflower 400 commemorations.

Ocean research non-profit ProMare and IBM announced that the MAS was in international waters as it attempted to cross the Atlantic ocean to the United States.

Following daily briefings led by IBM’s The Weather Company, the ship departed with the prospect of favourable weather from Turnchapel Wharf, Plymouth, UK at 4am.

With no human captain or onboard crew, the research vessel uses IBM’s automation, AI and cutting-edge computing technologies to assess its status, environment and mission and make decisions about what to do next while at sea.

However, truly following in the footsteps of the original Mayflower, the MAS unfortunately had to cut short its maiden voyage just days after leaving Plymouth. The teams behind the project - IBM and ProMare - hope to attempt another crossing at a later date.

People from all over the world will be able to follow the ship’s progress via the mission dashboard here which includes live video, maps and data streaming.

Watch the video above to discover more about the Mayflower Autonomous Ship's journey

The journey across the Atlantic ocean was expected to take approximately three weeks. If successful, the ship will land in Provincetown, Massachusetts, then make its way to the US port of Plymouth.

The pioneering mission is the result of years of work and a global collaboration between marine research non-profit ProMare, IBM and dozens of partners from across industry and academia.

Designed to forge a cost-effective and flexible platform for gathering data about the ocean, MAS400 will help scientists gather the data they need to advance understanding of key global issues affecting ocean health including ocean acidification, microplastics and marine mammal conservation.

MAS attempts its transatlantic crossing on 15 June. Credit: Oliver Dickinson for IBM/ProMare

One of the pieces of scientific equipment on MAS is Hypertaste – an ‘electronic tongue’ developed by IBM Research.

The project aims to aid the development of fully autonomous AI systems and applications for use in a variety of industries such as shipping, oil and gas, telecommunications, security and defence, fishing and aquaculture.

  • Discover more about the Mayflower Autonomous Ship here.

MAS attempts its transatlantic crossing on 15 June. Credit: Oliver Dickinson for IBM/ProMare

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