Mechanical problem forces AI-driven Mayflower back to port
The 50-foot catamaran was attempting to re-create its namesake's trans-Atlantic voyage
(PLYMOUTH, United Kingdom) — An autonomous ship designed to re-create the Mayflower’s historic journey across the Atlantic 400 years ago is returning to the United Kingdom after developing a mechanical problem, BBC News reported.
The crewless trimaran set sail on June 14 on a 3,500-mile journey from Plymouth to the state of Massachusetts. Project managers said the vessel had “a minor mechanical issue” that they planned to assess and repair.
The voyage had been expected to take about three weeks.
The 50-foot solar-powered vessel is capable of speeds of up to 10 knots and is being navigated by onboard artificial intelligence (AI) with information from six cameras and 50 sensors.
In a mission update posted on its website Monday, the Mayflower Autonomous Ship project stated, “Our support team has arrived and is in the process of bringing MAS400 back to base for assessment and repair. Comms are live but we have temporarily turned off some non-essential systems to conserve power.”
The project is led by the marine research organization ProMare, with IBM acting as both lead technology partner and lead scientific partner.