Pilgrims progress

What a difference a few centuries make! 

You may remember learning of the hardships experienced by the English Puritans who boarded the intrepid ship Mayflower back in Anno Domini 1620? As recounted at Caleb Johnson’s mayflowerhistory.com, “The first half of the voyage went fairly smoothly, the only major problem was sea-sickness. But by October, they began encountering a number of Atlantic storms that made the voyage treacherous. Several times, the wind was so strong they had to just drift where the weather took them, it was not safe to use the ship’s sails.”

We’re fast approaching the 400th anniversary of that noteworthy voyage, and in tribute, a new “modern Mayflower” has been developed by IBM and Plymouth University. The new ship, scheduled to sail in September 2020, will navigate the same course that the English Puritans took in 1620 from Plymouth (UK) to Plymouth (MA) , but leaves those 17th century hardships to history:  this century’s model sails itself with artificial intelligence, wind and solar sourced e-power, and cloud-based data backup. Other partners include the marine research and exploration organization Promare and the University of Birmingham, whose Human Interface Technologies (HIT) Team will create Virtual and Augmented Reality experiences.

As the video on this page explains, this high-tech e-vehicle is much more than a cruise ship. The new Mayflower will undertake marine research equipped with research pods coordinated by the University of Plymouth, to the great benefit of learning more about maritime cybersecurity, marine mammal monitoring, ocean microplastics analysis, and sea-level mapping.

For additional detail, here’s a good read from Hiawatha Bray of the Boston Globe – The Mayflower Electric ship  – see the specs and info at The University of Plymouth, and check out IBM’s blog item, Rethinking the Mayflower: How I Came to Build an Autonomous Ship to Cross the Atlantic

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