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Research & Innovation

Boats navigate under their own steam

The transport vessels, dubbed 'Roboats' will find their own way across the water and unload their cargo in cities such as Amsterdam and Bangkok.

07 Jun. 2018 Roland Freist
Source: SENSEable City Lab
Source: SENSEable City Lab

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in America has been working on the Roboats for several years. In 2016, a collaboration with the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS) yielded the first prototype , and a more developed version has now been launched. In the latest incarnation, a simple 3D-printer was used to manufacture the hull, made from 16 individual components, which are then assembled and sealed with multiple layers of fiberglass. The researchers have also improved the design of the hull, making the ships more maneuverable, and reworked the algorithms that control mooring, for example.

The Roboats are roughly four meters in length and have an electrical engine on both sides, so they do not have to turn in order to travel in the other direction. Furthermore, they are equipped with several sensors, GPS modules and micro-controllers so that they avoid other ships, boats and barges and find their way to the target. They can transport people as well as goods and can even be docked on floating platforms in order to form a bridge or event area, for example.

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