Amsterdam will experiment with selfdriving boats

first_imgIn a few years, the roads will probably be swarming with robots shaped like cars, but what of the seas? Will the waterways of the world be similarly taken over by robots? The city of Amsterdam is beginning a pilot program that could lead to that exact scenario. The Amsterdam Institute for Metropolitan Solutions (AMS) has announced that it will begin a five year trial of small robotic boats with the delightfully clever name “Roboat.”The project will leverage technology from MIT, Delft University, and Wageningen University. AMS has about $27 million to work with and hopes to have the first autonomous vehicles on the city’s canals in 2017. Amsterdam is the perfect location to run this project thanks to the hundreds of miles of canals that snake across the city.The Roboat doesn’t exist yet, but the concept images show it taking on a number of roles. AMS envisions the crafts ferrying passengers around the city, moving goods, or carrying sensors that monitor water quality. The individual vessels are small, but are designed to be modular. They can link up to form larger platforms or even temporary bridges.AMS is also conscious of the potential for increasing global demand for such vessels. As sea levels continue to rise due to climate change, more cities may find themselves looking toward water transport. It is already partnering with the city of Boston to potentially deploy some Roboats there.Boston city planners have explored the option of converting some of its streets into canals to cope with rising sea levels. Adding some robot boats could help sell the idea. “We’re going to flood this street, hope you have a boat,” doesn’t sound as good as, “we’re going to flood this street, but there will be robot boats.”last_img

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