The Mayflower had a few false starts before its trailblazing sea ship to America more than 400 years ago. Today, its synthetic intelligence-powered namesake is having some glitches of its namesake.
A sleek robotic trimaran retracing the 1620 journey of the renowned English vessel needed to return Friday to fix a mechanical problem.
Nonprofit marine research organization ProMare, which worked with IBM to construct the autonomous ship, said it made the decision to come back to base”to research and repair a minor mechanical issue” but hopes to return on the trans-Atlantic travel as soon as possible.
With no people on board the ship, there’s no one to make repairs while it’s at sea.
Piloted by artificial intelligence technologies, the 50-foot (15-meter) Mayflower Autonomous Ship began its trip early Tuesday, departing from Plymouth, England, and spending some time off the Isles of Scilly until it headed for deeper waters.
It was supposed to take around three weeks to achieve Provincetown on Cape Cod before making its way into Plymouth, Massachusetts. If successful, it could be the largest autonomous boat to cross the Atlantic.
There is some historical precedent for the malfunction: The first Mayflower that transported Pilgrim settlers to New England was supposed to set sail in the summer of 1620 but turned back to England because of a leaking problem affecting its sister ship, the Speedwell.