video transcript

New boat goes to America - 28th May 2021 view all

This boat is special. It doesn’t need a driver. Its name is Mayflower 400. It’s the first driverless boat.

Scientists worked together to make Mayflower 400. Now, it will sail to America.

400 years ago, the Mayflower took people from England to America. There won’t be any people on Mayflower 400.

The pandemic stopped the scientists. They couldn’t test the boat. Meirwen Jenking-Rees is helping with the tests.

Meirwen Jenking-Rees: "It’s possible. It’s just a bit of a struggle that we’re still in the, in the trials area. So we haven’t been able to go out in full choppy ocean waves, wind, rain. The full sort of worst case scenario stuff hasn’t been achieved yet."

Mayflower 400 uses computers and cameras. It can see other boats. It can sail in bad weather. It learns rules. Scientists can check its computers.

Oliver Thompson made the boat’s computers. They help the boat to think.

Oliver Thompson: "We don’t have to show her every single boat she’ll ever see for her to know that that particular boat is a boat. There are common features, and that applies to the decisions she makes as well."

Mayflower 400 is good for the environment. It gets power from the sun. The power is for machines on the boat.

The machines study the sea. They check the water. They get information about sea animals too.

Driverless boats can get lots of information about the sea.

Brett Phaneuf is the boat’s manager. He wants information to help the environment.

Brett Phaneuf: "And then if we can do that – remaining safe in terms of other people on the ocean, other ships on the ocean and also dealing with whatever the ocean can throw at us from a weather perspective – the AI systems can do that. That’s a huge move forward into reducing the cost of going to sea to collect the data that we need to understand the planet better. And that’s really the ultimate goal." view less

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