GDANSK, Poland (Reuters) – Four hundred years after the Mayflower crossed the Atlantic from Britain to the United States, a group of engineers plan to have a crewless-ship also named the Mayflower, navigate itself along the same route.
The voyage is due to begin in September and the new Mayflower could become the first full-sized, fully autonomous vessel to cross the Atlantic, organizers IBM and marine research group Promare say.
The original Mayflower ship transported 102 British settlers from England to America. They would become the first pilgrims to land there.
A hull designed in the Polish port city of Gdansk set off by road for Plymouth in Britain on Tuesday, where final work will be completed. The ship will use an ‘AI Captain’.
“One common thing on both projects was really a sense of adventure. The original Mayflower had people believing in a special future and putting their lives at risk,” said Goetz Linzenmeier, chairman and founder of Aluship, which built the hull.
“In this new Mayflower this is also a technological adventure, fortunately no life is at risk.”
The original Mayflower was a wooden, commercial, lightly-armed sailing vessel. The new Mayflower is a “highly-sophisticated trimaran with an even more sophisticated interior,” he added.
(This story corrects to make clear the hull will travel by road to Britain)
Reporting by Malgorzata Wojtunik, writing by Alan Charlish, editing by Alexandra Hudson