Roboat Ahoy: the First Autonomous Boats

Ruben Baart
September 27th 2016

Just when you thought the development of autonomous transportation couldn’t be any better, the Roboat arrived. This self-driving boat will be entering the canals of Amsterdam in 2017 with versatile ends. The Roboat will be used to transport goods and it will also be deployed as a temporary floating infrastructure, assembling itself into a walking bridge or a concert stage.

These autonomous boats have been created by a team of researchers from the MIT, AMS, TUD and WUR. The five-year pilot program will take place in the 165 canals of Amsterdam, where it will also gather meaningful data on environmental specs. Each water-based unit is embedded with sensors that monitor water and air quality, and noise. Additionally, these boats will provide more efficient ways to clear the 12.000 bicycles that every year end up in the canals of the Dutch capital.

Professor Arjan van Timmeren, scientific director at TUD, says the project revives the 17th century Amsterdam, as during the golden age the canals were the primary means of transportation. Amsterdam has a long-standing focus on urban innovation, making it the perfect place to pilot the self-sailing boats. This is the second autonomous vehicle for the city in a short period of time, earlier this year the first self-driving coach was introduced in the streets of Amsterdam.

Sources: MIT, Fortune

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