The Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) will use IBM’s AI, most powerful servers, cloud, and edge computing technologies to navigate autonomously and avoid ocean hazards as it makes its way from Plymouth, England to Plymouth, Massachusetts. If successful, says the company, it will be one of the first self-navigating, full-sized vessels to cross the Atlantic Ocean and will open the door on a new era of autonomous research ships.

“IBM helped put man on the moon and is excited by the challenge of using advanced technologies to cross and research our deepest oceans,” says Andy Stanford-Clark, Chief Technology Officer, IBM UK & Ireland. “By providing the brains for the Mayflower Autonomous Ship, we are pushing the boundaries of science and autonomous technologies to address critical environmental issues.”

The vessel will carry three research pods containing an array of sensors and scientific instrumentation that will be used to advance understanding in areas such as maritime cybersecurity, marine mammal monitoring, sea level mapping, and ocean plastics. The project is led by marine research organization ProMare (Chester, CT) and will be coordinated by the University of Plymouth, UK, who are at the forefront of marine and maritime research, with support from IBM and ProMare.

“Putting a research ship to sea can cost tens of thousands of dollars or pounds a day and is limited by how much time people can spend onboard – a prohibitive factor for many of today’s marine scientific missions,” says Brett Phaneuf, a Founding Board Member of ProMare and Co-Director of the Mayflower Autonomous Ship project (together with fellow Board Member Fredrik Soreide). “With this project, we are pioneering a cost-effective and flexible platform for gathering data that will help safeguard the health of the ocean and the industries it supports.”

The project will leverage IBM’s PowerAI Vision technology with its Power Systems accelerated servers to help ProMare build deep learning models capable of recognizing navigation hazards that come into view in MAS’s on-board video cameras. Trained on real data and images from the Plymouth Sound in the UK, MAS will be capable of recognizing hazards such as buoys, debris, and other ships, and will have constant situational awareness through use of radar, AIS (Automated Identification Systems), and lidar.

When a hazard is detected, MAS will use IBM’s Operational Decision Manager software to help decide autonomously whether to change course or, in case of emergencies, speed out of the way drawing additional power from its on-board back-up generator. Combining data from nautical maps, sensors, and weather forecasts, MAS will determine the optimal path and speed it should take across the Atlantic.

During the voyage, edge devices will collect and analyze ship data and store it locally; when connectivity is available, it will be uploaded to edge nodes located onshore. ProMare and IBM experts will update the deep learning models and push them out to the ship as required. The edge nodes are connected to IBM Cloud, where data is stored in IBM Cloud Object Storage.

Also coming on board is the UK’s University of Birmingham, which will be responsible for the use of virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies in the MAS mission. Birmingham’s Human Interface Technologies (HIT) Team is leading the development of a Mixed Reality Telepresence Science Station that will allow school children and members of the public around the world to experience the transatlantic mission.

The hull of the Mayflower Autonomous Ship is currently being constructed and outfitted in Gdansk, Poland before being transported to Plymouth, UK later this year.


Related articles:
Robot ship to navigate Pacific in 2019
Intel, Rolls-Royce partner on autonomous shipping
Autonomous ship guidance system combines probabilistic modeling, AI
Autonomous ship navigation systems in the making

If you enjoyed this article, you will like the following ones: don't miss them by subscribing to :    eeNews on Google News


Linked Articles