Mayflower Autonomous Ship launches

The Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) – an AI and solar-powered environmental research vessel – is being officially launched today.

The trimaran, which features a solar-driven hybrid electric motor, was yesterday lifted into the waters off the coast of Plymouth in preparation for the launch.

ProMare is co-ordinating the MAS scientific studies, working with IBM Research and other scientific organisations.

MAS features an AI Captain built by ProMare and IBM developers which – according to Promare – will give the vessel the ‘ability to sense, think and make decisions at sea with no human captain or onboard crew’.

Andy Stanford-Clark, Chief Technology Officer, IBM UK & Ireland, commented: ‘Able to scan the horizon for possible hazards, make informed decisions and change its course based on a fusion of live data, the Mayflower Autonomous Ship has more in common with a modern bank than its 17th century namesake.’

IBM and ProMare have set up a new interactive web portal – – which will provide real-time updates about the ship’s location, environmental conditions and data from its various research projects. Live weather data will be streamed from The Weather Company, as MAS is receiving forecast data and insight from the new IBM Weather Operations Center.

MAS will spend the next six months in sea trials and undertake various research missions and voyages before attempting to cross the Atlantic in Spring 2021.

Ian Taylor

Ian Taylor