Autonomous ship returns to shore after mechanical glitch

An AI-powered crewless ship had to sail back to shore on Sunday after it experienced a “small mechanical problem” on its transatlantic trip.

The journey began in Plymouth UK and was supposed to finish in Plymouth USA.

With no human captain or onboard crew, the research vessel uses IBM’s automation, AI and edge computing technologies to assess its status, environment and mission and make decisions about what to do next while at sea.

The project aims to aid the development of fully autonomous AI systems and applications for use in a variety of industries such as shipping, oil and gas, telecommunications, security and defence, fishing and aquaculture.

The Mayflower Autonomous Ship set off from Turnchapel Wharf on Tuesday 15 June. The journey across the Atlantic ocean was expected to take approximately three weeks.

But five days into the trip, the ‘AI Captain’ of the ship announced that the vessel had developed a mechanical issue and that it would be returning to the base to investigate the problem further.

“With no-one onboard to repair things, we are having to exercise a safety-first approach,” it Tweeted.

On Monday it was announced that the planned recovery vessel had arrived and that after a number of checks the autonomous boat would “head back to base.”

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