Autonomous Mayflower Reaches American Shores — in Canada

By MATT O’BRIEN, AP Know-how Author

A crewless robotic boat that had tried to retrace the 1620 sea voyage of the Mayflower has lastly reached the shores of North America — this time in Canada as an alternative of the Massachusetts coast the place its namesake landed greater than 400 years in the past.

The glossy autonomous trimaran docked in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Sunday, after greater than 5 weeks crossing the Atlantic Ocean from England, based on tech firm IBM, which helped construct it.

Piloted by synthetic intelligence expertise, the 50-foot (15-meter) Mayflower Autonomous Ship did not have a captain, navigator or any people on board — although it may need helped to have a mechanic.

“The expertise that makes up the autonomous system labored completely, flawlessly,” mentioned Rob Excessive, an IBM computing government concerned within the challenge. “Mechanically, we did run into issues.”

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Its first try on the trans-Atlantic crossing to Plymouth, Massachusetts, in June 2021 was beset by technical glitches, forcing the boat to return to its house port of Plymouth, England.

It set off once more from England almost a yr afterward April 27, certain for Virginia — however a generator downside diverted it to Portugal’s Azores islands, the place a group member flew in to carry out emergency repairs. Extra troubles on the open sea got here in late Might when the U.S.-bound boat developed an issue with the charging circuit for the generator’s starter batteries.

AI software program is getting higher at serving to self-driving machines perceive their environment and pilot themselves, however most robots cannot heal themselves when the {hardware} goes awry.

Nonprofit marine analysis group ProMare, which labored with IBM to construct the ship, switched to a back-up navigation pc on Might 30 and charted a course to Halifax — which was nearer than any U.S. vacation spot. The boat’s webcam on Sunday morning confirmed it being towed by a bigger boat because the Halifax skyline neared — a security requirement beneath worldwide maritime guidelines, IBM mentioned.

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