The MAS 400 Mayflower robot boat, the first designed to cross the Ocean Atlantic in a 100% autonomous way, failed last Sunday (20) during his first crossing attempt. Equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) and monitored from a distance, the vessel had “some problems” and will need to return to its base, the port of Plymouth, England.

The boat, which was rescued from the middle of the ocean, left a week ago and the forecast was that the trip would last at least three weeks. Designed by ProMare, it is part of a project that commemorates 400 years of the journey of the first English settlers to the USA aboard the Mayflower in 1620.


In addition to the celebration, the vessel also had the mission of carrying out a series of experiments, collecting data on marine life and samples of plastic waste.

Robot boat that sails alone fails in its first attempt at crossing the Atlantic. Image: IBM

"It's a little disappointing, but we'll resume the crossing as soon as we identify where the problem occurred on the boat and fix it," said project co-director Brett Phaneuf, noting that the futuristic vessel "will return to sailing as soon as possible."

The setback with the boat, caused by a drastic reduction in speed, impresses those who know the history of the original Mayflower in depth. With 102 people and 30 crew on board, the 1620 ship ran aground twice before reaching the US coast, also needing to return to Plymouth for repairs.

Before the current technical issue, the departure of the MAS400 was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, even though it had no crew. The hope is that if the Mayflower's high-tech descendant is following in his ancestor's footsteps, the third attempt at crossing should succeed. After all, the first two setbacks were overcome.

Robot boat that sails alone fails in its first attempt at crossing the Atlantic. Image: IBM

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The MAS 400 Mayflower boat is the very embodiment of technology. Trimaran-type, with three hulls, it is 15 meters long and makes decisions on its own, based on analyzes made by its artificial intelligence (AI).

When setting off last week, many specialists from around the world were following its path, as the project indicates the future of maritime navigation. To learn more about the MAS 400 Mayflower, click here.

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