On its maiden voyage this spring, the Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) will trace the route of the 1620 Mayflower, sailing from Plymouth, UK, to Plymouth, MA, only this time there will be no human captain or crew on board as the 15m, lightweight, hybrid-electric powered trimaran crosses the Atlantic. But there will be six onboard video cameras with low-bandwidth video streaming technology to relay what the ship is seeing back to humans on land.

Videosoft’s technology will use satellite connectivity and compression technologies so that footage can be transmitted back to AI developers and research scientists providing real-time feedback and visuals during the mission. It will also be used to provide the media and public with updates about interesting events that occur during the ship’s ocean adventures.

“The ability to receive live video feed from the ship using minimal communication bandwidth is a game changer for us,” said Don Scott, Chief Technology Officer of the Mayflower Autonomous Ship.

The international grassroots project is led by marine research organization ProMare alongside IBM, which is acting as both lead technology partner and lead scientific partner, with other key design and construction partners including MSUBs, Aluship and MarineAI.

With an AI Captain at the helm, MAS is able to operate for long distances and durations at sea collecting critical data about the ocean.  Powered by IBM’s computer vision, automation and machine learning technologies, the AI Captain maintains constant situational awareness and makes decisions about what to do next in line with collision regulations.      

Small, lightweight edge devices from NVIDIA provide local computer power for operational independence relying on IBM Cloud connectivity when available.