Just under 402 years ago, in August of 1620, the Mayflower set sail from Southampton, England, bound for America. The 100-foot-long-long, triple-masted wooden vessel with canvas sails took more than two months to cross the Atlantic. It carried 102 passengers, had a max speed of three knots an hour (that’s about 6 kilometers or 3.7 miles an hour) and required a crew of 30 to operate.
Earlier this month, another Mayflower crossed the Atlantic, but it couldn’t have been more different from its namesake in almost every way. The one similarity was that, well, it was also a boat.
The differences? The new Mayflower—logically dubbed the Mayflower 400—is a 50-foot-long trimaran (that’s a boat that has one main hull with a smaller hull attached on either side), can go up to 10 knots or 18.5 kilometers an hour, is powered by electric motors that run on solar energy (with diesel as a backup if needed), and required a crew of… zero.
That’s because the ship was navigated by an on-board AI. Like a self-driving car, the ship was tricked out with multiple cameras (6 of them) and sensors (45 of them) to feed the AI information about its surroundings and help it make wise navigation decisions, such as re-routing around spots with bad weather. There’s also onboard radar and GPS, as well as altitude and water-depth detectors.