Unmanned Ship Arrives At Plymouth Waterfront

Photo: Kim Tunnicliffe (WBZ NewsRadio)

PLYMOUTH, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — An unmanned ship that began its trek in England arrived at Plymouth's waterfront Thursday.

The Mayflower Autonomous Ship, or MAS, was built as a result of a partnership between tech company IBM and marine research non-profit Pro-Mare. The 50-foot ship, which has no captain, engineer, or crew onboard, used artificial intelligence and complex onboard computer systems to retrace the 1620 voyage of the original Mayflower.

"We can say things like 'Go to Boston.' It knows where that is," said MAS Project Director Brett Phaneuf. "It can access the web, set its own course, identify other vessels at sea; it navigates around them, it doesn't need our help."

The ship also collected water samples and other data to help researchers better understand ocean health and marine wildlife. Phaneuf said this includes "collecting water samples and looking at plankton, oxygen content and carbon dioxide content. [It's] got hydrophones listening to cetaceans, so whales and pinnipeds and dolphins."

MAS began its journey on April 27 out of Plymouth, England. It was its second attempt at the voyage, after a first attempt in June 2021 was cut short due to mechanical issues.

WBZ's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) has more.

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