Scientists to develop the world’s first drone-controlled unmanned ship called MARS


Let us introduce you to the world’s first fully-functional autonomous unmanned ship, driven entirely by an army of highly-specialized drones. Designed by scientists at UK-based Plymouth University, in collaboration with underwater vehicle manufacturer MSubs, the Mayflower Autonomous Research Ship (MARS) is a pioneering exemplar of technological advancement and innovation. Once developed, this sustainably-powered vessel will embark on its maiden voyage, across the Atlantic, in the year 2020.

21st century has been witness to immense technological developments, especially when it comes to land and air-based transport. The use of drones has allowed humans to access the remotest corners of the world, and even the distant celestial bodies lying beyond Earth. So far, the civilian maritime world has remained relatively untouched by the fast-expanding scope of technological advancement. In a recent press release, Plymouth University wrote:

… the shipping industry continues to steer the conservative course, its diesel engines pumping out carbon emissions and its manned crews at risk from piracy… if we can put a rover on Mars and have it autonomously conduct research, why can’t we sail an unmanned vessel across the Atlantic Ocean and, ultimately, around the globe?


According to the researchers, the MARS could pave the way for pioneering research in marine biology, while at the same time facilitating the growth of new technologies for ship navigation and ocean exploration. The ship’s design was conceived by UK-based company Shuttleworth Design, and includes state-of-the-art navigation softwares. What is more, the vessel would be driven entirely using renewable sources of energy, such as wind, solar power and tidal current. Speaking about the project, Kevin Jones, a professor and the dean of the University’s Faculty of Science, said:

MARS has the potential to be a geniune world-first, and will operate as a research platform, conducting numerous scientific experiments during the course of its voyage. And it will be a test bed for new navigation software and alternative forms of power, incorporating huge advancements in solar, wave and sail technology. As the eyes of the world follow its progress, it will provide a live educational resource to students – a chance to watch, and maybe participate in history in the making.

The construction of the ship will take around two and a half years to complete, and will cost several million dollars. For its first voyage, the MARS would set sail along the Mayflower route, 400 years after the Pilgrim Fathers crossed the Atlantic Ocean and reached America.

MARS_Autonomous_Drone-Controlled_Ship_3 MARS_Autonomous_Drone-Controlled_Ship_4

Source: Plymouth University

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