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article imageWorld’s first self-driving boats to be launched in Amsterdam

By Lucky Malicay     Sep 22, 2016 in Technology
The Hague - As self-driving cars slowly become a reality, the world will soon see driverless floating vessels as the next big thing in transportation.
Next year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS) will launch in The Netherlands the first driverless boats in the world.
The first prototypes of the so-called roboats — designed like a square, flat-topped pallet less than two meters a side — will start sailing through the iconic canals of the capital Amsterdam moving people and goods. These autonomous vessels can serve as "pop-up" bridges or a footpath across the water.
The MIT signed an agreement with AMS to collaborate on the development of the roboats with at least 20 million euros ($22.3 million) was donated by the prestigious American school for the project’s research.
“This project imagines a fleet of autonomous boats for the transportation of goods and people that can also cooperate to produce temporary floating infrastructure, such as on-demand bridges or stages that can be assembled or disassembled in a matter of hours,” says Carlo Ratti, professor of the practice of urban technologies in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP).
Aside from their primary function to transport passengers and serve as a floating infrastructure, the roboats have the ability to monitor water quality through an environmental sensor, offering assessment data on issues regarding pollution and public health.
Arjan van Timmeren, professor and scientific director at AMS, sees a number of possibilities for the roboats, whose real-time sensing is similar to the Underworlds project of the MIT. These autonomous floating vessels can even be used to retrieve thousands of bicycles dumped in the Dutch city’s canals.
“Roboat offers enormous possibilities as we’ll also be exploring environmental sensing. We could for instance do further research on underwater robots that can detect diseases at an early stage or use Roboats to rid the canals from floating waste and find a more efficient way to handle the 12,000 bicycles that end up in the city’s canals each year,” said Van Timmeren.
Amsterdam, declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2010, has over 1,000 kilometers of canals and 1,500 bridges, making it an ideal place for the roboats, according to the project proponents.
More about Amsterdam, Netherlands, Canals, Boats, driverless boats
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