back to article IBM-powered Mayflower robo-ship once again tries to cross Atlantic

The autonomous Mayflower ship is making another attempt at a transatlantic journey from the UK to the US, after engineers hauled the vessel to port and fixed a technical glitch.  Built by ProMare, a non-profit organization focused on marine research, and IBM, the Mayflower set sail on April 28, beginning its over 3,000-mile …

  1. Richard 12 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    What is the actual goal?

    Autonomous navigation far out at sea is long solved.

    Autonomous docking is pretty much solved, and of course not much of that happens at sea.

    The platform itself has proven less reliable than the battered motor yachts I skippered as a youth.

    So far it seems the only thing they've proven is that a crew is absolutely necessary.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: What is the actual goal?

      Isn't it obvious? It has AI!!!!!!1!!!one!!!11!!!

      Clearly it must be the best boat ever.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: What is the actual goal?

        If it truely had AI it would turn around when it realised it was approaching America

        1. mickaroo

          Re: What is the actual goal?

          Canada is part of America.

          I shall assume you meant "The United States of ..."

          1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

            Re: What is the actual goal?

            No, he meant Canada. ;-)

        2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

          Re: What is the actual goal?

          "If it truely had AI it would turn around when it realised it was approaching America"

          Unless it thought it was on its way to China or India.

    2. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: What is the actual goal?

      The web site -- https://mas400.com/ -- appears to have been put together by a professional communicator and is therefore somewhat incomprehensible. But my best guess is that this is an early prototype of an autonomous marine research vessel. Think a lunar or Mars rover type thing designed for Earth's vastly more dynamic environment. I think that the eventual objective might be the construction of a fleet of autonomous rovers that can collect data on the oceans without requiring a research vessel the size and cost of a tech titan's yacht.

      And to its credit, it's managed to travel considerable distances without sinking or running into other ships or running into fixed objects like Ireland or Europe. So maybe it's doing OK.

      For the curious, there are (or were last year) some schematic drawings of the boat and its layout plus some other technical data somewhere on the internet.

      1. Zanzibar Rastapopulous

        Re: What is the actual goal?

        >"an early prototype of an autonomous marine research vessel"

        They're late to the game, there are all sorts of things pottering about the ocean.

        Lookup underwater gliders.

        1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

          Re: What is the actual goal?

          And hurricane season starts next week. But "problems" can be helpful because the operators can see what happens and work to avoid the problems in future. Hurricanes in the Atlantic mean that you have to navigate around them, not through them, generator failures suggest having a backup will help .... etc etc.

          1. ThatOne Silver badge

            Re: What is the actual goal?

            > But "problems" can be helpful because the operators can see what happens and work to avoid the problems in future.

            Sorry, but the problems they face are all landlubber problems; Any shipowner with a little experience is already familiar with them.

            Ships have this surprising specificity that there is always something to repair. It's a (violently) moving environment in a highly corrosive atmosphere, and things (especially mechanical and electrical stuff) break down routinely, even if designed for marine use to start with. That's why bigger ships have a bunch of mechanics and a full repair shop on board. Surprisingly as it might seem, those mechanics work full time, even on a brand new ship.

            As for hurricanes, such a small vessel can only hope to not be anywhere near the zone of influence of a hurricane (or even severe tropical storm). Thankfully the National Hurricane Center is publishing detailed status reports, allowing anybody to plot a course well clear of the supposed path of the hurricane.

            My point is, all those problems are already known and have been solved a long time ago, they didn't wait for IBM to discover navigation...

      2. ThatOne Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: What is the actual goal?

        > my best guess is that this is an early prototype of an autonomous marine research vessel

        It actually looks more like a publicity stunt by IBM...

        .

        > And to its credit, it's managed to travel considerable distances without sinking or running into other ships or running into fixed objects

        Sorry, but traveling considerable distances without sinking is something mankind has mastered since BC times. As for running into other ships, it's incredibly hard in the middle of the Atlantic.

        Maybe if she had managed to slalom her way up and down the Channel (other narrow, heavy traffic zones available), but running into a ship (or even just seeing one) while going from the Azores to the Caribbean (I assume) is extremely unlikely.

        Any ship avoidance system they have would be only useful during the couple days navigating near a coast, and for that the (already existing and commercially available) AIS system is perfect: It gives you position, speed and heading of all vessels around you, and given the low speeds, you have plenty of time to avoid even come close to them. That's how cargo ships do it, there isn't somebody up in the crow's nest looking out for other ships...

        1. Billy Whiz

          Re: What is the actual goal?

          "there isn't somebody up in the crow's nest looking out for other ships..."

          Err, actually there is. Or at least there is supposed to be according to the regulations that most countries in the world have signed up to via the IMO. Maybe not in a crows nest, but certainly on the bridge.

          "navigating near a coast, and for that the ... AIS system is perfect"

          Unfortunately not everything is on AIS. All commercial shipping is, but in most places there is no requirement for privately owned pleasure vessels, less than 24m I seem to recall, to be fitted with it. And 'navigating near a coast' is where you find that sort of thing.

          And then there is the issue of stuff that aren't boats, like partially submerged shipping containers, drifting old fishing nets, etc., etc.

          There is no substitute for Mk 1 Eyeball, despite what the 'AI' groupies might tell you.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: What is the actual goal?

            >pleasure vessels, less than 24m... stuff that aren't boats, like partially submerged shipping containers, drifting old fishing nets, etc., etc.

            And the bridge watch on a 400m container ship doing 24knts is going to spot these and be able to manoeuvre to avoid them ?

            1. ThatOne Silver badge

              Re: What is the actual goal?

              No, of course they don't. Why would they, even if they could?

              A ship's reinforced bulbous bow is more than capable of dealing with those.

          2. ThatOne Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: What is the actual goal?

            > Or at least there is supposed to be

            You said it, "supposed" is the keyword here. In more dense areas there usually is, but normally there aren't, or he's surfing on Internet or watching TV.

            .

            > There is no substitute for Mk 1 Eyeball

            We agree on that, but it also depends on who you talk to: Small pleasure vessels definitely should have a lookout at all times, because big cargo ships don't really mind plowing through smaller obstacles, be it a partially submerged container or a small boat. Not saying that it's good or legal, just stating a reality, the classic "I dare you to run me over" bravado doesn't work on sea, it usually ends in a watery grave.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: What is the actual goal?

              "Not saying that it's good or legal, just stating a reality, the classic "I dare you to run me over" bravado doesn't work on sea, it usually ends in a watery grave."

              I know a couple people who took a US Coast Guard class that covered boating on the Great Lakes. Covered the usual safety topics, rules of navigation, rules for boats over 19 feet long, etc. Lots of time was spent on the rules for how vessels are supposed to maneuver around each other which gets complicated when you have different types of watercraft in close proximity.

              At the end of all those rules, the Coast Guard guy said: "now, listen to me. Bigger wins. You just learned all the rules of navigation, but if you mess with a 1000' oreboat, you will lose".

              1. ThatOne Silver badge
                Thumb Up

                Re: What is the actual goal?

                Words to navigate by...

    3. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: What is the actual goal?

      The goal is to do as the original pilgrims did: send to the Americas a deadly strain of a pox (for example the ladybug acne, the next in line after the monkey pox), to eradicate the local population and open the land for settlement.

  2. Potemkine! Silver badge

    "ProMare identified the issue as an isolation switch that failed,"

    Wait, isn't there any redundancy? It's weird for an autonomous system left alone in an Ocean.

    1. jake Silver badge

      It would be weird for the electrical system of any other ocean-going vessel, yes.

      But not this boat! It has AI! Who needs redundancy when you've got AI?

    2. seven of five

      Most probably the switch did not have the grace to fail properly.

    3. GlenP Silver badge

      It seems to me that the switch failed on, preventing a circuit from being isolated. From past experience designers often cater for things failing off (redundant power supplies, separate circuits) but not the reverse.

      The exception was with machinery guarding where we used monitored relays and redundant circuits.

    4. PhilipN

      Isolation switch that failed

      Failed how? And why? Was it picked up in haste from the discount shelf?

      This is IBM, which builds supercomputers?

  3. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    Does anybody know the budget for this? If it's been built on a shoestring by a team of enthusiastic grads, using donated equipment and more chin fuzz than expertise, then this is all par for the course. congratulations all, you're learning a lot, great effort and good luck with your project.

    If on the other hand, it's been built with proper investment by proper companies, set up to benchmark and prove cutting-edge technology, with access to all the latest wizardry and thousands of years of combined experience, then no this is a shitshow and not acceptable. Go back to page 1, sack a few technology consultants, employ a few sailors who've actually been to sea and some grizzled engineers who know a bit about operating machinery in a marine environment, and do it properly next time.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Here's the "crew".

      https://mas400.com/people

      Probably not a hell of a lot of peach-fuzz left on that lot anymore.

      I must say, though, it's a hell of a lot more folks than I would expect for a project of this size and scope. I was expecting maybe ten, total, given that IBM was involved[0]. Methinks there might be another issue:

      Designed and engineered by committee.

      [0] Ever see IBM field engineers in lots of fewer than three?

      1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: Here's the "crew".

        [0] Ever see IBM field engineers in lots of fewer than three?

        They hunt in packs...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Here's the "crew".

        Not any more.

        It takes 15 or more of their current day engineers to replicate the work that could be done by one or two of the older, more experienced engineers of yester-year (before they were let go in the name of saving costs).

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Here's the "crew".

        As much as one hates to defend IBM... Once you exclude things like the web development team and crediting the person who makes the tea, I count 17 people.

        They are doing things like "The AI engine of an Electronic tongue (the Hypertaste sensor array) to assist oceanographers characterize sea water, to expand insights in understanding the ocean ecosystem and ocean health, through continually 'tasting' water samples by our sensors along the way.", or "I'm responsible for building the hardware and software that runs the Science Pod on the MAS. This will support the experiments that we run by managing power, network, storage and compute," as well as "Technical advisor for on-board AI-assisted chemical testing of seawater", and "Machine Learning Developer. Because original marine mammal sounds are a challenge to collect, we needed a way to generate more audio files from the original set of data collected by marine biologists. I developed a novel approach, using an LSTM Neural Network to augment our original data. The augmented data was added to the original data and used in the main CNN Neural Network to classify the sounds encountered by the vessel. The added data improved the classification accuracy which will help MAS researchers."

        I'll be honest, that all sounds just fractionally more involved - and indeed interesting - than the "I could do that with my steamboat with a PDP-11 in the back and an X.25 cable back to shore" crowd suggests, and 17 people doesn't really seem like a vast array of data.

        As for the "the website is impossible to navigate, it must be built by consultants" contingent, it seems I managed to find that out in about two clicks. It is possible that modern websites are impossible to navigate mostly if you're still using lynx on a VT100.

        When *did* the venn diagram of Register readers and Daily Telegraph readers become a circle, anyway?

        1. ThatOne Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: Here's the "crew".

          > I'll be honest, that all sounds just fractionally more involved

          There have been and are oceanographic research vessels navigating around the globe for ages. Check the Tara Expedition for a contemporary example. And I'm confident you'll immediately spot the difference: Tara carries a lab and is temporarily hosting groups of scientists, allowing them to do their research on the spot, instead of just carrying a couple primitive sensors and lots of "AI".

          Sorry but this IBM project is and remains a solution looking for a problem, no matter how you look at it.

          Seriously, do you think "AI" can replace hands-on science done by real scientists on the field? It can be a compromise when you can't really use real scientists (like in space exploration), but if you can, you'd always better off using the real thing: A unartificial intelligent being with a PhD or two, and the capacity to know at any moment what (s)he's looking for and at.

          1. JimC

            Re: you'd always better off using the real thing:

            But define better off - better off for the results, or better off for the proportion of the budget spent on executive salaries rather than real scientists? And to be fair there is something to be said for the real scientists being able to do their work in office hours and go home to their kids rather than be at sea for six months at a time.

            1. ThatOne Silver badge

              Re: you'd always better off using the real thing:

              > better off for the results, or better off for the proportion of the budget spent on executive salaries rather than real scientists?

              You have a point there... But I consider the real interest to be science, and so for me "better" means "better science". Stuff the executives.

              As for the office hours, most scientists I know love field work. Not only is field work often almost a vacation compared to your dark and noisy office, but also (and more importantly) the real science is where your research subject is, not in some office.

              If you are studying plankton for instance, how do you get the most interesting results: Sampling yourself the environment using the best tools available, according to your plan and following the results you get, or by passively relying on some limited, uncontrolled and uncalibrated remote sensor smothered in AI sauce you know nothing about? I'm maybe old school, but I would definitely distrust what that AI tells me, and only use it as a basis for choosing locations for future, real research campaigns. At best.

              Horses for courses, that AI might be marvelous and a game-changer when sent to some moon of Saturn, but down here on earth science is always best done by quaint old Mk.I humans.

          2. Dr. Ellen

            Re: Here's the "crew".

            There is a large network of buoys (NOAA has about 1300 of them) collecting data on surface ocean conditions. An international organization maintains a fleet of Argo profiling buoys. These float about 1 km below the surface, then descend to 2 km. They then rise slowly to the surface, collecting info on temperature, pressure, and salinity. Once at the surface, they transmit their location and information to satellites.

            Those buoys and floats are unmanned. But they are in communication with scientists, and when one has problems, a crew can be sent to fix or replace it.

            On Mars or Titan, there is data to be had, but no repair crews. This (admittedly limited) AI ship is 'learning' how to operate without human assistance. We're going to have to learn this sort of thing if we want to explore where none have gone before.

            1. ThatOne Silver badge

              Re: Here's the "crew".

              > This (admittedly limited) AI ship is 'learning' how to operate without human assistance.

              Come on, we've been very successfully sending automated science probes all over the solar system for decades before IBM eventually decided to get into the game. And funny enough, they actually didn't require any "AI" at all. Automated probes is hardly a new domain, and what IBM does here is hardly groundbreaking or even useful, except as a publicity stunt.

              Also those buoys aren't in any way comparable, they are just passive, remotely monitored weather stations. Even if they had been manned, it would had only been some untrained person checking the instruments and jotting down the values to phone them back to headquarters (usually the farmer on who's farm the weather station had been installed). Absolutely no "AI" needed, just some way to transfer the data.

              Who needs "AI"? Very few people apparently, to the despair of those who desperately try to find suckers to sell it to. Yet another corporate get-rich-quick scheme goes south, like blockchain...

          3. HildyJ Silver badge

            Re: Here's the "crew".

            And yet we send unmanned space probes to the moon despite knowing how to send scientists since Apollo. Scientists aren't always useful or cost justified.

            The reason we have autonomous systems driven by AIs is to provide broader and cheaper data via their sensors. IBM is testing their AI but also testing new sensors that can provide new data.

            1. ThatOne Silver badge

              Re: Here's the "crew".

              > And yet we send unmanned space probes to the moon despite knowing how to send scientists since Apollo. Scientists aren't always useful or cost justified.

              Yes, I said so myself. Automated probes are only justified for space exploration, especially and more so since we don't have the technical capacity to send actual humans out there: Right now (May 2022) we couldn't send human scientists to Mars even if we wanted to.

              The point we disagree on is the need for "AI". As I said just above, we've already sent dozens of very successful probes all over the solar system, and none of them had a need for "AI"... Why would they need "AI" all of a sudden? Because IBM has shareholders to placate?

      4. deive

        Re: Here's the "crew".

        - https://mas400.com/people

        = "You need to enable JavaScript to run this app."

        errrr....

  4. Lis

    Just maybe

    the "AI" is way more intelligent than expected and just does not want to go to the U.S.A.?

    On the bright side, weather is looking good for a beer garden Friday. Have a good un y'all.

    Cheers... Ishy

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Just maybe

      If it were THAT intelligent, it would avoid the East Coast, head for Panama and then up the Pacific Coast to any port North of Morro Bay.

      1. Kevin Johnston

        Re: Just maybe

        It is looking for the lost shaker of salt enroute to Margaritaville

      2. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Just maybe

        Fri 27 May 10:52:28 BST 2022

        Current course 311°, which puts it on a heading for northern Nova Scotia. AI may be achieving consciousness :))

  5. mevets

    May Flower II

    I wonder if the residents will remember how well the May Flower I's arrival went and bludgeon this think before it can make landfall?

    1. wub

      Re: May Flower II

      Anybody remember what happened to hitchBot?

      https://www.theregister.com/2015/08/03/hitchbot_beheaded/

  6. 42656e4d203239 Bronze badge

    curse of El Reg?

    Looks like the poor thing is drifting again...

    NW wind at 27Knm, heading 56 degrees (ish), having headed more northerly since I last looked (76 degrees), speed 2 kts, rudder seems fixed at 35 degrees Starboard, no aux power engaged.

    Something doesn't add up there; speed is remarkably little for that much wind, heading change/rate of change is wierd for that rudder angle (unless I have it switched in my head)

    1. 42656e4d203239 Bronze badge

      Re: curse of El Reg?

      oh I take it back - something has decided to use the aux power and steer back to facing the US of A....

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: curse of El Reg?

      As I type (about 1:30 Pacific time) The boat looks to be dead in the water.

      Telemetry claims 1 knot at a heading 117 degrees (ESE), The prop seems to be stopped, and the rudder angle is 0.6 (which seems to be it's resting state). It has 87% battery power and solar is providing just under 140W.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: curse of El Reg?

        About an hour later. It's definitely dead in the water and drifting.

        Currently heading just North of East (91°) at 1 knot, no prop speed, same rudder angle of 0.6 to starboard, 50W of solar, 87% battery.

        It'd be nice if IBM included a lat/lon reading on that page ...

        1. ThatOne Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: curse of El Reg?

          > It'd be nice if IBM included a lat/lon reading on that page ...

          And allow somebody to gain a free boat with some probably fairly expensive hardware onboard?...

  7. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    How do they ensure that this thing complies with its obligations under the IRPCS (International Regulations for Prevention of Collisions at Sea)?

    As a power driven vessel it is obliged to give way to all sailing vessels and to about half of other power driven vessels, and even when it does not have to give way it must still do so if the other vessel doesn't do what it should. The rules are not simple, contain occasional contradictions, and all fall back on Rule 2: Nothing in these Rules shall exonerate any vessel, or the owner, master or crew thereof, from the consequences of any neglect to comply with these Rules or of the neglect of any precaution which may be required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the case.

    I do hope it does not simply blunder around and assume everything else will avoid it.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      > How do they ensure that this thing complies with its obligations under the IRPCS

      That is very simple, especially given the low speeds involved. Any last-century arcade game engine could calculate this easily, after all it's just a long list of "if-then" statements.

      .

      > I do hope it does not simply blunder around and assume everything else will avoid it.

      The ingenuous skippers who do this usually don't last the weekend... Cargo ships rarely have human lookouts and even if they do, they ignore you, it's up to you to avoid them no matter if you're under sail or power: The bigger ships can take up to 5 minutes to change heading, so it's up to the smaller, more agile vessel to avoid being run over.

      (Which, despite sounding very dramatic, usually just translates to calmly changing your heading by a couple degrees until the other ship's bearing starts to change again, meaning there is no risk of collision anymore. On open sea it all happens very slowly, very calmly, over a period...)

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        >On open sea it all happens very slowly, very calmly, over a period...)

        Unless one of the vessels is US navy

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          ???

          Care to elaborate?

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
            Pint

            Urban Legend

            A commonly circulated version goes thus:

            This is the transcript of a radio conversation of a US naval ship with Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October, 1995. Radio conversation released by the Chief of Naval Operations 10-10-95.

            Americans: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision.

            Canadians: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.

            Americans: This is the Captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.

            Canadians: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.

            Americans: This is the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln, the second largest ship in the United States' Atlantic fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers and numerous support vessels. I demand that YOU change your course 15 degrees north, that's one five degrees north, or countermeasures will be undertaken to ensure the safety of this ship.

            Canadians: This is a lighthouse. Your call.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Urban Legend

              Thoroughly debunked in the Usenet newgroup alt.folklore.urban back in '97ish (I'd go check for the exact date, but the goo-tards destroyed DejaNews, unfortunately. Seems an ASCII archive is beyond their technical expertise.)

              You can read the gist of the debunking at snopes.com ... note the date of the article.

              For those of you who intelligently don't blindly click on links:

              https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/the-obstinate-lighthouse/

              1. ThatOne Silver badge
                Happy

                Re: Urban Legend

                > Thoroughly debunked

                Still funny... (Which probably shows it isn't true, reality is rarely that entertaining.)

                As for the "blindly clicking", has hovering over a link to see the URL gone out of fashion? (Genuine question, slightly surprised)

          2. jake Silver badge
            Pint

            The Brits don't really have a Navy of their own anymore, so they have to denigrate the American's. It's all they have left. Just smile sadly, nod, and walk away.

            Or offer 'em a pint. Poor blighters could use one, and they are hardly the enemy.

  8. stronnag

    Saildrone

    Meanwhile, Saildrone has been autonomously navigating the oceans for many years, including Altantic crossings https://www.saildrone.com/missions/atlantic-crossing

  9. G R Goslin

    The Scam of the Year

    I've been following the Mayflower 400 project for some time now, with increasong doubts in regard to it's credibility. Reading the projects web pages, one is given to believe that the entire project is powered by the small number of solar panels on the hull. I quote;-

    Power supply- Lithium Phosphate batteries, in addition to solar panels on the ships exterior, provide power to the computer systems on board, in addition to supplying energy to the motors for propusion.

    And:-

    Dual 20 KW permanent magnet motors help (help?) to propel the ship at nearly double the speed of the original Mayflower, while producing less carbon than traditional diesel burning engines.

    If 20 KW motors are required for main propusion, then the meagre one KW, at best, for the limited hours of daylight, of the solar array are hardly going to be enough. Given that my home PC uses aroud 300 watts, the requirements of the Mayflower, 24/7 are unlikely to be met from the output of the solar array, never mind propelling five tonnes of ship through heavy seas.

    There are a number of factors which give a clue to reason. The very high internal temperatur of the hull, generally about 43C, indicates a heat souce somewhat higher than the one KW, max output of the solar arrays. Particularly in a presumably uninsulated aluminium hull in the 12/13C temperature of the North Atlantic seas. Then there was a mere mention, that during the enforced stay in The Azores, the opportunity was taken to re-fuel. Boxes of sunbeams, perhaps? Then there was the shaft power indications, on the web site , which tended to be about 72%. 72% of the 40 KW capacity of the motors, comes out at about 26 KW, which seems about right for the size of the ship. Unforunately the full output of the solar array, at best, only meets about 4% of the required power. It took a lot of digging before the truth surfaced. The ship is fitted with two marine diesel engines. Both are Fischer Panda AGT motors, one four cylinder machine of 21.9 KW (continuous) and the other, a single cylinder version of 3.2 KW (continuous). Not by a single word, does this information appear in the Mayflower web pages.

    As I said, a scam from end to end.

    1. G R Goslin

      Re: The Scam of the Year

      BTW, If you're thinking of buying one of these invisible engines, the bigger version of the two, The FISCHER PANDA AGT-DC 22000-48V, comes in at a handful less than 29,000 Euro's. So not cheap. But, who cares, when it's someone else's money, you're spending.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: The Scam of the Year

        At least the FISCHER PANDA AGT-DC 22000-48V is actually designed for a Marine environment.

        For those not in the know, this genset is run by a 1.5l turbocharged Kubota V1505T diesel engine putting out 44hp (~33kW). One suspects that it would be much more efficient and more environmentally friendly to just attach it[0] to the propeller(s) and get rid of the fancy electronic middleman.

        [0] Or rather, a version of the same engine built for that roll, as opposed to built to be a constant RPM battery charger.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: The Scam of the Year

          I should note that that 44 hp(~33kW) is the power at the flywheel ... the electrical output is 21.9kW, continuous.

        2. ThatOne Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: The Scam of the Year

          > One suspects that it would be much more efficient and more environmentally friendly to just attach it[0] to the propeller(s)

          Yes, but you'd lose your eco warrior cred...

          You can't do that for what is essentially a marketing stunt, the board would have your head.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: The Scam of the Year

      The big one charges the motor battery pack, at 48V apparently. The small one (perhaps a Fischer Panda AGT-DC4000?) charges the battery for the electronics, probably at 12V. And absolutely zero redundancy ... neither can be used to do the other's job in a pinch.

      Brilliant.

      Note! I'm not dissing the gensets, they are good units! Rather, I'm dissing the application.

    3. veti Silver badge

      Re: The Scam of the Year

      How do you calculate the max output of the solar panels?

      And I note the description says that batteries are used in addition to solar panels. Clearly, high capacity batteries are charged in port, and solar power merely supplements the charge during the voyage.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: The Scam of the Year

        Are you suggesting there are no diesel generators, veti?

        From here, and judging by the press on the previous breakdown, the diesel generator is, in fact, the primary power plant. The solar panels are just auxiliary window dressing, there to make the scientifically ignorant greenaholics happy-happy. There is no way that boat has enough square inches for its solar array to power a pair of 20kW electric motors all by themselves, not even under perfect conditions.

      2. G R Goslin

        Re: The Scam of the Year

        If you watch the wattage output for long, you get an idea of the maximum. particularly if the battery is partly run down. And it 'aint very much.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: The Scam of the Year

          It's a little after sunrise. Overnight, the thing ran at 46% prop, 0% solar (duh!), showed 53 volts (on a nominally 48 volt system), and the battery stayed at 87%. That's every time I checked on it, probably every hour and a half or so.

          In other words, this supposedly solar boat ran on diesel all night long, and didn't even attempt to top up the battery, even though the 53 volts is probably the proper voltage to charge it. Note that with a 21.9 kW generator, the prop motors running at half power each makes sense if they are not topping up the battery.

          Solar my ass. It's diesel-electric. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

  10. JacobZ
    Joke

    Chico Marx explains why...

    ...it's taking so many attempts.

    https://youtu.be/eaX1gVMkoj0

  11. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Joke

    Staying afloat

    "Built by ProMare, a non-profit organization focused on marine research, and IBM",[ a for-profit organization focussed on staying afloat]

  12. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    https://www.maritime-executive.com/media/images/article/Photos/Miscellaneous/Mayflower-sea-trials-April-2021-IBM.0f79bf.jpg

  13. G R Goslin

    'Ello, ello?

    They seem to have changed course again. heading now for halifax NS. More trouble causing a dash for the nearest bit of hard ground? Or has the AI decided to opt out of the US, and who can blame it? And head for Canada, instead. Perthaps, they're running out of sunbeams to keep the solar panels fed. It sure is exciting, but hardly a re-enactment of the original mayflower extravaganza.

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