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The American technology company has created, together with the marine research organization Promare, the first autonomous ship that will cross the Atlantic with a captain-robot in command.
The future creeps in, little by little, not only in our homes, with the latest technologies, but also in the means of transportation. If in recent months we are seeing how luxury car companies make the leap to autonomy with exclusive models, which, in addition, are respectful of the environment, now it is the nautical sector that takes a step further, from the IBM, to transform the world as we know it.
On September 16, 1620 the ship Mayflower sailed from Plymouth (United Kingdom) to the Massachusetts coast with the first Anglo-Saxon settlers. Today, 400 years later, a new Mayflower will rewrite its name in the history books as it becomes the first ship without a captain or crew to arrive in the United States, making it the first fully autonomous vessel to cross the Atlantic.
Off the coast of Plymouth, IBM and the marine research organization Promare will use Artificial Intelligence as captain on this new vessel this year. Before launching this adventure, different tests will be carried out to evaluate how the on-board computer systems work to navigate safely around other ships, buoys and the different problems that can be encountered in the ocean. This will ensure that nothing stands in the way of this historic milestone.
The project aims to promote the development of autonomous commercial ships, as well as to transform the future of marine research.
For two years, the Mayflower team has been training the ship’s Artificial Intelligence models using more than a million nautical images collected from cameras in Plymouth Sound, as well as from open source databases . On the other hand, in order to meet the demands of machine learning processing, the team used an IBM Power AC922 powered by an IBM Power9 CPU and NVIDIA V100 Tensor Core GPU, technology used in the world’s smartest supercomputers.
The ship will use IBM AI and edge computing systems to sense its surroundings, make smart decisions about the situation, and act on these insights in the shortest possible time, even without human intervention.
Of course, the robot-captain will be prepared to respect the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea , as well as the recommendations of the International Convention for the Safety of Human Life at Sea.