An unmanned robot ship, designed to recreate the historic Mayflower voyage across the Atlantic 400 years ago, began crossing the ocean this week.
The Mayflower Independent Ship (MAS) came out in a A 3,500 mile (5630 km) flight from Plymouth, UK, to Massachusetts, USA.
The journey is expected to last approximately three weeks, according to the project’s creators.
The craft will also conduct in-flight experiments, collect data on marine life and samples of plastic waste.
The MAS flight, created by nonprofit ocean research firm ProMare and computer giant IBM, is part of the official Mayflower 400 celebrations.
The unmanned ship was created to demonstrate technological advances over the centuries since the pilgrims left for the New World, the project’s creators said.
The independent ship Mayflower is in the Atlantic Ocean after a layover in the Isles of Scilly. – Photo: Oliver Dickinson for IBM / Promare
The trimaran is 15 meters long and powered by solar energy. Capable of reaching speeds of up to 10 knots (20 km/h) and guided by artificial intelligence (AI)Which receives information from six cameras and 50 sensors.
The craft sailed from Plymouth to the Isles of Scilly on Tuesday (15/06). On Wednesday (16/06), it departed again and entered international waters, according to the developers.
The original crossing lasted two months
Project manager Brett Vanoff said he was “incredibly nervous” and “will remain completely nervous for the next three weeks”.
“I know everyone on my team feels the same knot in their stomach. No one has finished[a trip like this]yet, but the weather is right for that.”
The original Mayflower was larger and more impressive, but slower and more reliant on humans to direct it. – Image: IBM
The original Mayflower was a three-masted wooden ship, 30 m long, with canvas sails, and a top speed of 3 knots (6 km/h).
In that time, it flew 102 passengers and crew of about 30 from Plymouth to Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
The 1620 crossing took more than two months.
The 2020 version is made of aluminum composite, with a backup diesel generator to accompany the solar-powered batteries.
The progress of the robot ship can be followed on the MAS400 website.