In 1620, a merchant ship called Mayflower went on a voyage from Plymouth, England to America to escape the jurisdiction of the Church of England. The Mayflower carried 102 passengers hoping to start a new life on the other side of the Atlantic. The voyage proved to be a game changer.
Now a modern version of the Mayflower plans to navigate across the Atlantic, only this time it won’t have any crew onboard. This unmanned ship will be called the Mayflower Autonomous Research Ship, or MARS. This fully autonomous ship is being developed jointly by Plymouth University, autonomous craft specialist MSubs, and yacht manufacturer Shuttleworth Design.
MARS will cross the Atlantic in 2020 to mark the 400th anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower. It will be powered by advanced wind, waves, and solar technology to help it cross the Atlantic Ocean.
It will have new navigation software that will help it navigate without human inputs using a combination of GPS and onboard collision-avoidance systems.
The successful unmanned voyage will pave the way for fleets of floating drones carrying cargo in future.