Roboats: Amsterdam Will Soon Have Its Own Fleet of Driverless Passenger Boats

  • Engineers from MIT are developing the world’s first autonomous boats.
  • The robotic fleet is bound for the city of Amsterdam.
  • Roboat II navigates autonomously using algorithms similar to those used by self-driving cars, but now adapted for water.
  • The boats are an upgrade on the smaller deliver boats also in construction.

The feverish race to produce the shiniest, safest, speediest self-driving car has spilled over into our wheelchairs, scooters, and even golf carts. Recently, there’s been movement from land to sea, as marine autonomy stands to change the canals of our cities, with the potential to deliver goods and services and collect waste across our waterways.

In an update to a five-year project from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the Senseable City Lab, researchers have been developing the world’s first fleet of autonomous boats for the City of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and have recently added a new, larger vessel to the group: “Roboat II.” Now sitting at 2 meters long, which is roughly a “Covid-friendly” 6 feet, the new robotic boat is capable of carrying passengers.

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