The Mayflower Autonomous Ship
The Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) will begin its journey on 6 September 2020 and cross the Atlantic Ocean, from Plymouth to Plymouth. Like its namesake in 1620, MAS will rely to some extent on favourable weather to complete its crossing as it will be powered by state-of-the-art hybrid propulsion system, utilizing wind, solar, state-of-the-art batteries, and a diesel generator.
MAS will carry three research pods containing myriad sensors that scientists will utilize to conduct persistent, ground-breaking research in meteorology, oceanography, climatology, biology, marine pollution and conservation, and autonomous navigation.
MAS is being coordinated through a partnership lead by ProMare, a non-profit charity established to promote marine research and exploration throughout the world. The research pods will be coordinated by Plymouth University, a world-leading centre of excellence for marine and maritime education, research and innovation. Additionally, the University of Birmingham’s HIT Team will be conducting ground-breaking research into Virtual and Mixed Reality human interfaces for future autonomous marine systems. The vessel is being designed by Whiskerstay Ltd (Naval Architects) and M Subs Ltd, both with a long pedigree developing manned and unmanned marine vehicles.
In 2014, members of the Plymouth City Council and local business leaders were debating how best to celebrate the 400th Centenary of the crossing of the Pilgrim Fathers, in the original Mayflower. After much discussion, it was decided to build a modern Mayflower Autonomous Ship that embodies the pioneering spirit of the Pilgrims and that draws upon 400 years of maritime history to inform the next 400 years of exploration and research.
Work is underway to build the vessel. The hull began construction at Aluship Technology in Poland on September 2, 2019. It will deliver to Plymouth in Spring 2020 to undergo final fit-out and sea-trials prior to embarking upon the long journey to Plymouth, Massachusetts.