IBM and a non-profit company, ProMare, failed to send their 49-foot Mayflower autonomous ship across the Atlantic back in June. Now they are almost ready to try again. The Mayflower will recreate the path of its more famous namesake.
The total voyage is set to take a month, but the last attempt developed mechanical problems after three days. Now they are running more sea trials closer to shore before attempting another crossing in 2022.
With a triple-hull design, this Mayflower doesn’t look much like an old sailing vessel and, in fact, uses a combination of power sources. The ship is supposed to use wind turbines, diesel, and solar power. However, according to a Washington Post article, a failure in the generator system reduced the ship’s power to where it was unable to complete its voyage.
The vessel has a number of sensors including six cameras. The “Captain” software uses AI rules that IBM describes as “explainable.” Crossing the Atlantic is one of those things that seems like it would be pretty easy, but handling every eventuality is probably a lot harder than it sounds.