IBM-powered robot Mayflower restarts Atlantic crossing

The self-contained ship Mayflower is making another attempt at a transatlantic voyage from the UK to the US, after engineers transported the ship to port and fixed a technical glitch.

Built by ProMare, a non-profit organization focused on marine research, and IBM, the Mayflower set sail on April 28, beginning her more than 3,000 mile journey across the Atlantic Ocean. But after less than two weeks the unmanned ship broke down and was taken back to the port of Horta in the Azores, 850 miles off the coast of Portugal, for engineers to inspect.

With no humans on board, the Mayflower Autonomous Vessel (MAS) can only rely on its many cameras, sensors, equipment controllers, and various pieces of hardware running machine learning algorithms to survive. Computer vision software helps him navigate choppy waters and avoid objects that might get in his way.

Her first attempt at a transatlantic crossing ended in failure due to a mechanical failure of her generator. Fortunately, the technical problem this time around was minor, and ProMare and IBM managed to get the ship back to sea to resume its last attempt to make it to the United States.

“ProMare has identified the issue as a failed isolation switch,” an IBM spokesperson said. The register. “IBM technology on board remained functional as expected and continues to function as intended.”

The switch affected the Mayflower’s electrical power system, sapping its power. Once the team solved the problem, they ran some tests, filled their diesel tanks and waited for good weather to send it back to the ocean. “As of 09:00 BST on May 20, MAS was back with its transatlantic crossing,” the IBM spokesperson said. He is aiming to complete the remaining 2,225-mile voyage in 16 days. Now, nearly a week after resuming its journey, the ship has reached its furthest distance, just over halfway to America.

Mayflower’s AI software runs on four computers containing Intel processors, six Nvidia Jetson AGX Xavier GPUs, two Nvidia Jetson Xavier NX cards and a few other chips. Live camera footage Diffusion from a webcam aboard the ship is back online for viewers to follow.

“We have made many improvements – the computer vision system has been greatly improved through sea testing, and similarly the data fusion algorithms are working better and better with each deployment and have improved significantly over the of the past year,” Brett Phaneuf, co-director of the Mayflower Project and former board member and president of ProMare, said earlier. The register in a report.

“We have also improved many mechanical systems, in particular the air intake and exhaust for the generator on the hybrid driveline – and we have also significantly reduced energy consumption, over the past year. , through applied research, testing and trials, and we have made the boat more robust in general.” ®

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