Launched four years ago, this autonomous trimaran project has been the subject of international collaboration and has received the support of IBM. The boat will weigh anchor on May 15, destination Plymouth, Massachusetts in the United States.
Sailing in Plymouth Bay, in the south-west of England, the ”», The first intelligent vessel, switches off its engines and activates a hydrophone, designed to listen to whales. All without any human intervention. Capable of making its own decisions and sailing in total autonomy, this small trimaran 15 meters long and 9 tonnes, covered with solar panels, is preparing to cross the Atlantic Ocean on its own. He will be able to study the environment by analyzing the presence of in the water or stalking them sailors.
The ocean ” is the most powerful force on the planet that regulates our climate », Explains to AFP Brett Phaneuf, founder of the ProMare association and architect of the project. But more than 80% of the oceans remain unexplored, because of their vastness and the dangers involved. “ The sea is a harsh environment, so having a boat with no one on board really allows scientists to expand the study area. », Underlines Rosie Lickorish, specialist in emerging technologies at, one of the partners who joined the project since its birth four years ago.
Information collected available free of charge
When the idea emerged, ” other technology providers have started to help us », Says Brett Phaneuf, as well as several« hundreds Of people from India to the United States, via Japan or Switzerland. Without this ” global effort “, the project ” would have cost tens of millionss “of dollars instead of” just under a million dollars ”Ultimately invested by ProMare, which will make the information collected free of charge.
The big departure to the United States is scheduled for around May 15, depending on theand the currently uncertain authorization from the British authorities. The boat is expected to take about three weeks to reach another Plymouth, Massachusetts, replicating the original “Mayflower” crossing over 400 years ago, in 1620, when a hundred “pilgrims”, English religious dissidents, had left for the New World.
But for this future trip, which was delayed by the, « no one will get sick “And” we can take all the time we want for scientific experiments », Specifies Mr. Phaneuf on the English port. At his side, seated on the quays, three IT specialists control the equipment from their while a 21-year-old engineering student, Meirwen Jenking-Rees, checks the engines before a workout.
An AI trained in maritime navigation
Thefrom the fully robotic trimaran, from the rudder to the diesel generator set which completes the solar, took a year. The development of his ” virtual captain “, a who began by learning to identify maritime obstacles by analyzing thousands of , took even longer. The programmers also taught the “Mayflower 400” to avoid collisions. On the strength of this knowledge, the boat went to sea for a “ supervised learning ». « We can tell him what his good and bad deeds are, what is dangerous or not », Explains Ollie Thompson, engineer in .
Then ” we go to the stage where the boat is able to correct itself “, That is to say” to think “thanks to a computer system which simulates the way in which ahuman analyzes information. ” He continues to learn on his own “, Using his” “, A sophisticated system of six cameras, and its” ears “, that is to say its radar, adds Mr. Thompson. However, due to unheard-of regulations on navigation without anyone on board, the “Mayflower 400” has not yet been able to “ go out on rough seas, with big , of , rain “, be the ” worst case scenario », That of a violent , regrets Meirwen Jenking-Rees. Instead, the trimaran trained to face waves of 50 meters using a simulator.
Mayflower 400 will detect marine mammals and analyze water
He will use his artificial intelligence to conduct scientific experiments, says Rosie Lickorish. He has for example ” been trained using thousands of hours of audio recording (…) to detect marine mammals, recognize them and teach us about the distribution of their populations ».
Autonomous boat Mayflower, piloted by an AI, will cross the Atlantic
Article by Fabrice Auclert 10/18/2019
The NGO Promare is associated withfor a beautiful project: to celebrate the 400 years of the first crossing of the English colonists towards the United States. This “Mayflower” of the XXIe century will leave in September 2020 and navigation will be entrusted to artificial intelligence.
Almost 400 years ago, in September 1620, a ship left England for the north of the American continent. His name: the, which became the symbol of the arrival of the first European settlers in the United States. To celebrate this anniversary, the NGO Promare and decided to redo the route by boat, between Plymouth in England, and Plymouth in Massachusetts; and the inventor of Deep Blue has decided to entrust the helm to … an artificial intelligence!
This fully autonomous trimaran is simply called “Mayflower”, it will leave in September, like its illustrious ancestor. To cover the 5,000 km or so that separate the two continents, Promare and IBM have equipped their ship with solar panels, as well asand a to propel it.
Without a crew or remote control, this autonomous boat will cross the Atlantic from September 2020. © IBM
AI will detect obstacles
This trip will not only be symbolic since the ship will also be used to conduct experiments in areas such as maritime cybersecurity, marine mammal surveillance or the study of. For this project, IBM provided its technology , capable of detecting objects in images and videos. It will avoid obstacles and other dangers at sea. For this, the AI will use radars and .
Thanks to the servers on the boat, everything works locally, without an external connection, and the term “autonomous” takes on its full interest here. Simply, the data will be sent to the two HQs, located at the start and at the finish. For those who will stay at the dock, the idea is to offer themof virtual reality to board the Mayflower and to make the crossing “virtually”.