Dear Commons Community,
Four centuries and one year after the Mayflower departed from Plymouth, England on a historic sea journey to America, another trailblazing vessel with the same name set off to retrace the voyage. It is being piloted by sophisticated artificial intelligence technology for a trans-Atlantic crossing that could take up to three weeks, in a project aimed at revolutionizing marine research. IBM, which built the ship with the nonprofit marine research organization ProMare, confirmed the Mayflower Autonomous Ship (see video above) began its trip on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. As reported by the Associated Press.
Unfortunately, the robotic trimaran retracing the 1620 journey of the famous English vessel had to turn back on Friday to fix a mechanical problem.
Nonprofit marine research organization ProMare said it made the decision to return to base “to investigate and fix a minor mechanical issue” but hopes to be back on the trans-Atlantic journey as soon as possible.
With no humans on board the ship, there’s no one to make repairs while it’s at sea.
Piloted by artificial intelligence technology, the 50-foot Mayflower Autonomous Ship departed from Plymouth, England, and spent time off the Isles of Scilly before it headed for deeper waters.
It was supposed to take three weeks to reach Provincetown on Cape Cod before making its way to Plymouth, Massachusetts. If successful, it would be the largest autonomous vessel to cross the Atlantic.
There is some historical precedent for the malfunction: The original Mayflower that carried Pilgrim settlers to New England was supposed to set sail in the summer of 1620 but twice turned back to England because of a leaking problem affecting its sister ship, the Speedwell.
We wish the Mayflower Autonomous Ship good luck on its next voyage!