Solar-Powered Mayflower Will Recreate Historic Journey Connecting 2 Plymouths
In 2020, the Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) will mark the 400th anniversary of the original Mayflower journey to North America with the first-of-its-kind solar and wind-powered drone. The 100-foot-long trimaran, a vessel with three parallel hulls, will sail from Plymouth UK to Plymouth, MA, on renewable energy while deploying more drones to conduct experiments during its historic journey and celebrating the historic journey that brought the pilgrims to the US.
The project recently exceeded a crowdfunding campaign launched by Plymouth University in Great Britain, which will help it conduct testing prior to undertaking the transcontinental journey. The university partnered with MSubs and yacht designers Shuttleworth Design to bring the unique project to life.
“MAS has the potential to be a genuine world-first, and will operate as a research platform, conducting numerous scientific experiments during the course of its voyage,” said Professor Kevin Jones, executive dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University. “It will be a test bed for new navigation software and alternative forms of power, incorporating huge advancements in solar, wave and sail technology. As the eyes of the world follow its progress, it will provide a live educational resource to students a chance to watch, and maybe participate in history in the making.”
Expected to take two-and-a-half years to build, MAS will include drones that will be deployed to collect maritime and biological data throughout its journey. The ship also will test and push the boundaries of communications and control protocols for autonomous vehicle systems. It might help create new traffic regulations of unmanned drone vessels at sea. Project directors from mSubs and Plymouth University have already started talks with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to certify and classify MAS’ voyage.
The MAS project is planned as an interactive educational experience for 35,000 primary and secondary students in the Plymouth UK region. Students will track MAS’s construction process, as well as its initial sea trials. Additionally, MAS will provide the City of Plymouth, UK up to 30 full-time positions and benefit its economy by building a visitors center to view the progress on the project.
“While advances in technology have propelled land and air-based transport to new levels of intelligent autonomy, it has been a different story on the sea,” said Brett Phaneuf, managing director of MSubs. “The civilian maritime world has, as yet, been unable to harness the autonomous drone technology that has been used so effectively in situations considered unsuitable for humans. It begs the question, if we can put a rover on Mars and have it autonomously conduct research, why can’t we sail an unmanned vessel across the Atlantic Ocean and, ultimately, around the globe? That’s something we are hoping to answer with MAS.”
Solar innovators have been pushing the boundaries of renewable energy technology for some time and this is not the first time a solar-powered vessel has traveled across the Atlantic Ocean. In 2013 the largest solar-powered boat, Turanor PlantSolar, broke its own record by traveling across the Atlantic in 22 days, 12 hours and 32 minutes while cleaning up ocean trash.
Similarly, penetrating the edge of space, Raphael Domjan and PlanetSolar unveiled the SolarStratus, a solar-powered aircraft designed to travel to the earth’s stratosphere with the equivalent environmental footprint of driving an electric car.Tweet