Presenting the Mayflower Autonomous Ship: To resolve ocean plastics research obstacles

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Every day, hundreds of articles about the tech industry’s favorite buzzwords are published. They are addressing topics from Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Cognitive Computing to Quantum Computing and Blockchain. But only a few of them are concerned around solving the problems that face society as a whole. Instead, the objectives of the articles are often as simple as solving a business objective issue in a single industry or even firm. In the following, I will proudly present you to a case where, among other technologies, AI will be used to break down ocean plastics.

A problem that, potentially, has the power to impact hundreds of millions of lives for the worse in the future – if we don’t act now instead of reacting later.

Meet the Mayflower Autonomous Ship

The Mayflower Autonomous Ship will set sail in September 2020, 400 years after the first Mayflower, and this time AI and other advanced technologies will be at the helm. The purpose? To unlock the secrets of the (dirty) seas and ultimately help to address the most critical research obstacles within the field of ocean plastics:

The Mayflower Autonomous Ship will use IBM’s Power servers, Watson AI, cloud and edge computing technologies to navigate autonomously and avoid ocean hazards as it makes its way from Plymouth, England to Plymouth, Massachusetts. If successful, it will be one of the first self-navigating, full-sized vessels to cross the Atlantic Ocean and will open the door on a new era of autonomous research ships.

The vessel will carry three research pods containing an array of sensors and scientific instrumentation that scientists will use to advance understanding in several vital areas such as maritime cybersecurity, marine mammal monitoring, sea level mapping, and ocean plastics. The work will be coordinated by the University of Plymouth, UK, who are at the forefront of marine and maritime research, with support from IBM and ProMare.

If you are interested in learning more about the project, you can read more about it here. Furthermore, you are welcome to contact me at if you have any questions.

Innovation Executive - IBM Watson - Apple Alliance Manager Global Business Services

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