Robotic Mayflower (Mayflower Autonomous Ship – MAS) is a global consortium of partners, led by marine research organization ProMare, that are building an unmanned, fully-autonomous ship that will cross the Atlantic on the 400th anniversary in 2020 of the original Mayflower voyage.
The robotic Mayflower will begin its journey on September 6, 2020 and cross the Atlantic Ocean, from Plymouth, England to Plymouth, Massachusetts. Like its namesake in 1620, robotic Mayflower will rely to some extent on favorable weather to complete its crossing as it will be powered by state-of-the-art hybrid propulsion system, utilizing wind, solar, state-of-the-art batteries, and a diesel generator.
Robotic Mayflower will carry three research pods containing myriad sensors that scientists will utilize to conduct persistent, ground-breaking research in meteorology, oceanography, climatology, biology, marine pollution and conservation, and autonomous navigation.
Robotic Mayflower is being coordinated through a partnership lead by ProMare, a non-profit charity established to promote marine research and exploration throughout the world. The research pods will be coordinated by Plymouth University, a world-leading centre of excellence for marine and maritime education, research and innovation. The vessel is being designed by Whiskerstay Ltd (Naval Architects) and M Subs Ltd, both with a long pedigree developing manned and unmanned marine vehicles.
IBM announced on October 16, 2020, that it is joining the robotic Mayflower project. IBM will provide Power servers, AI, cloud and edge computing technologies to navigate autonomously and avoid ocean hazards as it makes its way from Plymouth, England to Plymouth, Massachusetts.
If successful, it will be one of the first self-navigating, full-sized vessels to cross the Atlantic Ocean and will open the door on a new era of autonomous research ships.