Mayflower Autonomous Ship

Put Your Name On The New Mayflower

Support this project and your name will appear on a remarkable craft that sails itself, say the Anglo-American team behind The Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS). And not just any ship, a 100 foot trimaran that takes its inspiration from that most Transatlantic of craft, the original Mayflower, and marks the 400th anniversary of its sailing out of Plymouth to the New World.

It will be the first vessel of its kind to sail without captain or crew across the Atlantic, able to conduct scientific research around the world. With driverless cars already on the horizon and the air industry using computers to fly planes, the solar powered MAS could change the way the shipping industry works.

US Ambassador Matthew Barzun supported the Mayflower at a special reception at the Embassy in London to celebrate the transatlantic relationship. Now it's your turn.

The robot boat depends on a Crowdfunder campaign. To take the design from blueprint to boatyard, organizers need to raise £300,000 for the crucial next design and development stage which will include robust wave tank scale-model testing. All supporters will get their name written into history as 'new pilgrims.' A £20 donation gets your name on the boat; for £50 your family's name is added and for £35 you can have two names and a significant date. Larger rewards will include invitations to VIP events, invitations to the launch, exclusive opportunities and other offers.

The American spoke to Brett Phaneuf, MD of submarine builders M-Subs and the brainchild behind this project:

What made you come up with this crazy idea?

"For several years company (Submergence Group (US) / M Subs (UK) has been designing and building a variety of unmanned vehicles for underwater exploration and also working on unmanned surface vehicle concepts designed to reduce the cost to industry for deployment of sub-sea assets. Much of what I did prior to working in industry focused on oceanographic research as well and I had been contemplating the long-duration deployment of automated systems for research purposes for some time. Then, approximately a year ago, in a meeting with the Plymouth City Council, accompanied by Ian McFadzen from Plymouth University, the idea of building a replica Mayflower ship was casually discussed as a way to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower in 1620. At that moment the idea coalesced and I asked "Why not build an autonomous ship, an autonomous 'Mayflower' that speaks to the next 400 years in the marine industry and not look back at the last 400? Besides, there's already a replica in Plymouth Massachusetts! We should invoke the spirit of the Pilgrims, the ethos of new beginnings, of exploration, of daring to inform what we do with an autonomous ship." The idea was instantly recognized by the University and also the ProMare foundation (US) as an opportunity make a significant contribution to marine science, to marine autonomy, and to infuse the region with a new enthusiasm for marine science by providing a rallying point for our varied industry in Plymouth, Devon and the UK."

What does this Anglo-American partnership mean to you, as an American?

"My ancestors settled in Massachusetts in the late 1620s and I grew up steeped in our regional and national history. As child I visited the site of Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower replica on numerous occasions and never thought I would be connected viscerally to it… that I would one day live in Plymouth UK and stand on the Mayflower steps. For me this is an opportunity to integrate my life and history as an American and my love of and my time living in the UK, and my interest in history (I am trained as a classical archaeologist), marine research, and marine technology. In many ways it is the ultimate expression of everything I've done, everywhere I've been, all that I have studied throughout my entire life."

Design and testing of the MAS will take 18 months and the build will start in 2018. Trials will start by early 2019 and the boat will set sail from Plymouth, UK, to Plymouth, MA, on the 400th anniversary of the original Mayflower.

The Mayflower Autonomous Ship Crowdfunder will launch at 10am on October 24th, at the Plymouth Marine Station, PL4 0LU.

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Mayflower Autonomous Ship

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