Photo credit: MIT CSAIL
MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the Senseable City Lab aim to create the world’s first fleet of autonomous boats for the City of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Their most recent robotic boat, the “Roboat II,” measures 6-feet and capable of carrying passengers. It used powerful algorithms to autonomous navigate Amsterdam’s canals for three hours, collecting data, before returning back to its start location with an error margin of less than 7 inches. Read more for a video and additional information.
Eventually, the hope to create a version of Roboat with the ability to self-assemble and connect to multi-unit trains with a distributed controller. This is comprised of various sensors, controllers, and associated computers distributed throughout a system, drawing inspiration by how a colony of ants can transport food without communication. The main Roboat would initiate movement to the destination, and then the other robots can process their movements accordingly.
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Roboat II navigates autonomously using algorithms similar to those used by self-driving cars, but now adapted for water. We’re developing fleets of Roboats that can deliver people and goods, and connect with other Roboats to form a range of autonomous platforms to enable water activities,” said MIT Professor Daniela Rus, a senior author on a new paper about Roboat and the director of CSAIL.