The race to autonomous shipping

In 1620, one of the history’s most important ships set off from Plymouth harbour…

To mark 400 years since this epic voyage, IBM, the University of Plymouth and marine research company ProMare are recreating the journey made by the Mayflower pilgrims, but this time without a single soul on board.

Thanks to thousands of hours of research in Plymouth Harbour and some of the most cutting-edge hardware and AI, including an IBM Power AC922 server fitted with Nvidia V100 Tensor Core GPUs, this tech will provide super-powerful processing of information, including weather patterns, wind, sea behaviour and obstacle collision vectors.

Although many larger ships do have an autopilot or some sort of automated navigation system, the reality is that they need a human operating alongside the computer, both as a failsafe and to make important decisions on courses and weather avoidance.