Unmanned Mayflower on the Road to Completion

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March 24, 2020

The bulk of a new Mayflower is complete and on the road.

Workers in Gdansk, Poland have completed work on the hull of what is being called the first full-sized, fully autonomous vessel to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Aluship, which built the hull, placed the hull on a special truck, and the next step is Plymouth, in the U.K., where other workers will finish the job.

Mayflower Autonomous Ship

To mark the 400th anniversary of the journey of the Pilgrims to the New World, the Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) will sail from Plymouth in September 2020 across the Atlantic to the United States. The plan is for the self-guided vessel to complete its journey in two weeks. The original Mayflower, carrying 102 English people in search of religious freedom, took two months, launching in September 1620 and reaching the eastern coast of North America in December of that year.

The modern ship, a trimaran, will be guiding itself, also using such cutting-edge technology as radar, the global positioning system (GPS), onboard cameras, and light detecting and ranging (LiDAR). Powering the ship will be wind and solar power; a diesel generator will be used if necessary.

Building the ship are U.S.-based computer and systems manufacturer IBM and ProMare, a nonprofit marine research operation. IBM's operational decision maker (ODM) software will help the ship make decisions along the way. The ship will also sample the waters it sails through for plastic.

The director of the project, Brett Phaneuf, grew up in New England and can trace his family history back to nearly the time of the Pilgrims' arrival.

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Social Studies for Kids
copyright 2002–2020
David White

Social Studies for Kids
copyright 2002–2020
David White