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Robot Boats Leave Autonomous Cars in Their Wake

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A rendering of an autonomous ship called the Mayflower.

Four hundred years after the trans-Atlantic crossing of the Mayflower, an autonomous ship of the same name will retrace its historic voyage.

Credit: James Arthur Allen/The Wall

U.K. ocean-research nonprofit Promare will launch an autonomous boat next spring to retrace the trans-Atlantic journey of the Mayflower, in a promotional demonstration of technology that can substitute for crew on voyages deemed too costly or risky.

Marine AI is building the unmanned Mayflower, which is being programmed to manage storms.

IBM's Andy Stanford Clark said another challenge is programming the ship's artificial intelligence not only to comply with maritime regulations in international waters, but also to explain its decisions.

The ship's software is partly derived from repurposed financial-services technology, while Promare trained its computer-vision system on images of vessels, buoys, and floating debris.

From The Wall Street Journal
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