The UK Hydrographic Office has announced its support of the Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) project, which will see one of the first Transatlantic crossings of a fully autonomous vessel. Important geospatial data from the UKHO will support the first part of the vessel’s journey from Plymouth UK to Plymouth Massachusetts this spring.

MAS is designed to provide scientists with a flexible and cost-effective platform for collecting critical data about the health of the ocean and further the technological development of marine autonomous systems.

Turnchapel Wharf is the homeport for the MAS which is continuing to undergo seatrials ahead of her planned voyage in 2021.

MAS From Above I

Data Partner for MAS

The data provided by the UKHO spans high resolution gridded bathymetry, tidal height and surface current data, and geospatial restriction and constraints data for the Plymouth Sound region, providing MAS with a definitive view of the seabed in UK coastal waters.

The voyage is expected to commence in spring 2021 and take approximately 3 weeks. As a data partner to the project, the UKHO also facilitated meetings with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to enable the MAS team to secure similar data for the approach to its final destination. The data from the UKHO will complement updates from IBM’s The Weather Company, which include 500m resolution weather forecasts and predictions along the route in order to help MAS avoid running into severe weather.

"It is an honour to be able to support the Mayflower Autonomous Ship with the marine geospatial information that the UKHO holds. Clearly, the first Transatlantic crossing of an autonomous vessel is a huge milestone for our sector."

"Focusing on the challenge of machine-readable data is one of the key ways that our sector will be able to scale autonomy as a widespread solution. We are proud to be at the forefront of innovation in this area and we will continue to work with our partners and colleagues across the sector to help unlock the potential of marine autonomy."

- Mark Casey, Head of Research, Design & Innovation at the ‎UK Hydrographic Office

The MAS is built by non-profit group ProMare with support from IBM as well as Turnchapel-based business Marine AI.

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Photos: February 2021 sea trials. (c) Promare/IBM News Room

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