In a move that could reshape the shipping industry, Plymouth University in the U.K. launched a project to build a full-sized and fully-autonomous ship.
The Mayflower Autonomous Research Ship is being developed in partnership with MSubs and Shuttleworth Design, who bring knowledge of autonomous vessels and yacht design respectively. Plymouth University states that this is the first-ever project of its kind.
MARS is expected to take two and a half years to build and will sail across the Atlantic in 2020 after a year-long testing phase. 2020 was chosen because it is the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower sailing from Plymouth to North America. The vessel will follow the same sailing route the Mayflower took.
The new vessel will be a trimaran powered by renewable energy. It will operate as a research platform conducting scientific experiments during its voyage. MARS will feature several drones which performing a variety of experiments and serve as a test bed for new navigation software and alternative energy. The trimaran will also serve as a live educational resource to students who will be able to watch its progress.