The Mayflower had a few false starts before its trailblazing sea voyage to America more than 400 years back. Today, its synthetic intelligence-powered namesake is having some glitches of its namesake.
A slick robotic trimaran retracing the 1620 journey of the famous English vessel had to turn back Friday to fix a mechanical problem.
Nonprofit marine research firm ProMare, which worked together with IBM to build the autonomous boat, said it made the choice to come back to base”to investigate and fix a minor mechanical dilemma” but expects to be back on the trans-Atlantic journey when possible.
With no humans on board the boat, there is no one to make repairs while it is at sea.
Piloted by artificial intelligence technology, the 50-foot (15-meter) Mayflower Autonomous Ship began its trip early Tuesday, leaving from Plymouth, England, also spending time off the Isles of Scilly until it headed for deeper waters.
It was supposed to take around 3 weeks to reach Provincetown on Cape Cod before making its way into Plymouth, Massachusetts. If successful, it could be the biggest autonomous vessel to cross the Atlantic.
There is some historical precedent for the malfunction: The original Mayflower that carried Pilgrim settlers to New England was supposed to set sail in the summer of 1620 but two turned back to England because of a leaking problem affecting its sister ship, the Speedwell.