The Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) is a pioneering project to design, build and sail the world’s first full-sized, fully autonomous unmanned vessel across the Atlantic Ocean. Powered by state-of-the-art renewable energy technology, and host to a fleet of drones through which it will conduct research experiments during the crossing, the 33-metre trimaran is being developed by a partnership of the University of Plymouth, autonomous craft specialists MSubs, and public charity Promare which promotes marine research and exploration throughout the world. The design of the vessel is being carried out by award-winning yacht designers Shuttleworth Design.
MAS is expected to take two-and-a-half years to build, and following a year’s testing, would sail in 2020 to mark the 400th anniversary of the original Mayflower crossings from Plymouth to North America. In order to reach that point, however, many technological, regulatory and financial milestones must be achieved.
The project is being overseen by the not-for-profit company, Mayflower Autonomous Ship Ltd, which has been set up by the partners with the sole purpose of designing, building and launching the vessel. As part of that work, a Crowdfunder appeal has been launched to raise initial funding for the production of a scale model, which will be tested in the ocean basin wave tank of the University’s COAST Laboratory.
It is hoped that the MAS project will create a number of research and educational opportunities, not just for students at the University, but also schools both in the UK and in the different cities of Plymouth around the world. It will offer people the chance to engage in citizen science, and be a part of a genuinely future-defining, life-changing project.