• The technology company has applied business decision-making processes to navigation
  • The initiative has been carried out in collaboration with Promare, an NGO dedicated to ocean research

An unmanned ship called the “Mayflower” has recently completed the first fully autonomous Atlantic crossing. The ship has been captained on its way by IBM ‘s artificial intelligence systems applied to business decisions .
The project has been carried out in collaboration with Promare, an NGO dedicated to ocean research, and its objective was to collect data on the impact of climate change and pollution on the oceans.

The ship has not only taken its name from the historic ship that in 1620 transported the so-called “Pilgrims” from the United Kingdom to a point in what is now the state of Massachusetts, but it was also going to reproduce their route, although at the Dessert has not quite succeeded, so in some quarters the IBM experiment has been described as relatively disappointing, although the fact that it has completed the first autonomous journey stands out.

IBM’s “Mayflower” left the port of Plymouth on April 27 and arrived in HalifaxCanada on June 5 , after some problems and breakdowns forced the technology experts and Promare to intervene, and to change the intended route.

Three layers of technology

The ship has navigated “captain” by a system that, according to the information published by IBM on its website, has three layers of technology: capture sensors, machine learning and real-time analysis , to which was added a decision engine. The “Mayflower”, according to the technology company, had a total of thirty sensors and fifteen peripheral devices for data analysis. In her journey she has traveled more than 3,000 nautical miles.

“IBM experts” , details the company, “have used petabytes of data to train machine learning models and have written rule-based decisions for the decision engine, allowing the ship to react without human intervention to an ocean environment that it can often become dangerous.” 

The company pointed out when announcing the project that the system makes the ship comply with maritime legislation and that it can make crucial decisions “in a fraction of a second. He himself changes his route” , he adds, “if the weather conditions are adverse. He collects and analyzes massive amounts of ocean data, and he does it 24/7.”

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