An unmanned autonomous boat attempting to take the route to Mayflower’s voyage in 1620 has finally arrived on the coast of North America, but on the coast of Canada instead of Massachusetts, where the original boat landed.
The robot boat reached Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Sunday after a trip across the Atlantic from England that lasted more than five weeks, according to IBM, which built the captain for artificial intelligence that makes the entire ship̵[ads1]7;s decision.
The Mayflower Autonomous Ship did not have a captain, navigator or other persons on board.
“The technology that makes up the autonomous system worked perfectly, flawlessly,” said IBM’s chief data officer Rob High, who worked on the project. “Mechanically we had problems.”
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The ship’s first attempt to cross the Atlantic to Plymouth, Massachusetts, in June 2021 was derailed by technical faults, forcing it to return to its home port of England.
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The boat tried again on April 27, heading for Virginia. However, a generator problem led the ship to the Azores in Portugal, so that a team member could fly in for emergency repairs. And at the end of May, the boat had a problem with the charging circuit for the generator’s starter batteries during a new attempt to reach the USA
AI software helps self-driving machines to know their surroundings and control themselves, but most autonomous vehicles can not fix themselves when hardware problems occur.
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The non-profit marine research organization ProMare, which helped build the ship, switched to a reserve navigation computer on May 30, ahead of the boat’s trip to North America.
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The ship’s webcam on Sunday morning showed it was being towed by a larger boat as it closed in on the Halifax skyline, a safety requirement under international maritime rules, according to IBM.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.