back to article IBM's self-sailing Mayflower suffers another fault in Atlantic crossing bid

No, this isn't deja vu. IBM's self-sailing Mayflower ship, tasked with making it across the Atlantic without any humans onboard to help, has suffered another mechanical glitch preventing it from continuing its intended journey. Named after the vessel that brought passengers from England to America in the 17th century, the …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Electrical problems

    And here I am thinking that electricity is not all that hard. A failed switch ? Did it get water on it or something ? How does a switch fail ? I'm supposing they didn't install the 30 cent version from Costco, so how did that happen ?

    In any case, as I said before, the AI on that ship is learning that meatbags are useful things to have around.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Electrical problems

      In a marine environment, everything is hard.

      Doubly so if it has electricity going through it.

      Triply so if there is constant vibration of various frequencies and amplitudes.

      Also, please note how conductive and corrosive salt water is.

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: Electrical problems

        "In a marine environment, everything is hard."

        You're right, but weren't all those problems solved years ago?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Electrical problems

          "weren't all those problems solved years ago?"

          Of course they were, at least for the most part.

          Professionals know to apply those solutions before problems arise.

          I suspect this toy was dreamed up and micromanaged by Marketing.

          1. ThatOne Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Electrical problems

            > Of course they were, at least for the most part.

            Which makes this even more ridiculous. Why would a yacht prepared by "professionals" be unable to do what hundreds of amateur skippers manage to do every year?

            It's definitely not because they're trying cutting edge stuff, don't even try. What broke each time is fairly standard off-the-shelf mechanical stuff, not some fancy "next-gen" technology. The problem is simply that they aren't that good at what they pretend to do. As Jake said, probably designed by a marketing and IT-centric committee which has no idea whatsoever about even basic yachting.

            1. HildyJ Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: Electrical problems

              IBM developed the navigation, which is still working. ProMare developed the sensors which provide surface measurements not replicable by AUVs or satellites. MSubs was hired to do the engineering.

              Unfortunately, MSubs expertise is in, as the name implies, autonomous submarines (coming soon to the Royal Navy), not surface ships which are subject to salt water waves and wind. In retrospect, this may not have been the best choice.

              I assume the ship will be redesigned after this voyage based on lesson learned but the science which ProMare is pursuing and the surface navigation which IBM is pursuing will go on.

              1. ThatOne Silver badge
                Stop

                Re: Electrical problems

                > BM developed the navigation, which is still working. ProMare developed the sensors which provide surface measurements not replicable by AUVs or satellites. MSubs was hired to do the engineering.

                And there was no project leader? Everybody worked in his corner, with no supervision or spec sheet? Sorry, I have managed complicated projects with several subcontractors working in very different technical domains, believe me, it's not rocket science.

                Putting the blame on MSubs, no matter how incompetent they might be, is too easy. The fault is definitely and entirely with the project initiator and leader, who I believe to be IBM.

          2. katrinab Silver badge
            Meh

            Re: Electrical problems

            Presumably by having an electrician on board? I'm not necessarily talking about a particularly brilliant electrician, just someone who can do the basics.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Electrical problems

              No real need for an on-board electrician for a properly though-out and built electrical system ... at least not for a once across the Atlantic scientific monitoring mission. Long-haul transport vessels (container ships, oil tankers, military vessels, and the like) are a whole 'nuther kettle of worms.

              Consider, for example, cheap fiberglass pleasure boats. These poor things can often take half a decade or more of abuse by clueless owners, with absolutely zero maintenance (except adding fuel) before "suddenly" having problems.

              The technology exists, is well known, is in mass production even, and was clearly ignored in this case.

              Have you inspected and verified your boat's bonding system recently?

        2. SW10
          Megaphone

          Re: Electrical problems

          weren't all those problems solved years ago?

          Yes. And a major part of the solution consists of people with toolboxes, silicon grease, replacement pins, WD40, rubber sealing, tie-wraps - and a regular walkabout to squint at everything

          1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

            Re: Electrical problems

            ...... and Denso tape and self amalgamating tape and .....

        3. pavel.petrman Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Electrical problems

          Yes, but mos probably not yet by IBM!

        4. ElReg!comments!Pierre

          Re: Electrical problems

          Perhaps IBM should just buy the tech from China and call it a day. Ah, no can do ?

          On a more serious note this is exactly the kind of problems that were entirely predictable, and that arise from a "solution" looking for a problem.

          Surface ships are notoriosly hard to keep running unnattended, and even though most shipping companies now run ships that are almost entirely autonomous, a minimal crew is always included.

          But there is little (if any) need for a reseach vessel to be a surface ship : underwater siblings are faring pretty well, thank you, as are airborne ones.

          In addition to that, the project suffers from what I will happily name "the Elon syndrome", after Tesla's famous attemps at autopilot : why would you try to emulate a human operator when more efficient technical solutions are widely available and well tested ? Surely cameras and image recognition should be at the very most a last-resort help rather than in the core design? A bit like how human crews have been in most commercial carriers for quite a while now ?

    2. Sceptic Tank
      Pirate

      Re: Electrical problems

      I would have saved some on the computer vision and invested more in watertight electrical equipment. I'm guessing there's nothing to see out in the middle of the Atlantic anyway, save maybe the underside of a barnacle.

      1. redpawn

        Re: Electrical problems

        But technology isn't real unless IBM invents it. Kind of like science does't count until the US replicates the discovery when it comes to American policy.

    3. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Electrical problems

      That's what you get, when you let software or IT people do engineering.

      I am sorry to sound harsh, even as I am a number cruncher myself. However, I have a background in mechanical engineering.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Electrical problems

        There is no evidence that the engineering is being done by software or IT people.

        1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

          Re: Electrical problems

          But there is evidence that the marine engineering isn't being done by marine engineers.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Electrical problems

            Are you saying that MSubs Limited don’t employ marine engineers?

            1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

              Re: Electrical problems

              No. I'm saying that there is evidence that the marine engineering isn't being done by marine engineers.

              1. werdsmith Silver badge

                Re: Electrical problems

                MSubs is the engineering partner. They are pretty good at marine engineering which I would guess is the reason that the vessel is still sound.

                1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

                  I'm thrilled that the hull is not breached.

                  Apparently, if IBM was responsible for it, that boat would have sunk in the harbor at launch.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Brunel's "Great Eastern" took three months to get into the water from its initial launch attempt. The Swedish "Vasa" managed about 1 mile (1km) of its maiden voyage before sinking.

                    1. Mike 16 Silver badge

                      Alternative uses

                      Keep in mind that Great Eastern's ("Not Entirely Succesfull" much like Start Trek M1-4) allowed its sale at a bargain price, to be used in laying a working (for a while) telegraph cable from UK to America.

                      I suspect many of us have had the experience of re-purposing failed tech for not-quite-the-same task.

                      (Vasa, OTOH, reminds me of various military gear, for which Murphy's Law was invented, and ignored)

            2. jake Silver badge

              Re: Electrical problems

              I'm absolutely certain that MSubs Limited does employ marine engineers, and good ones at that. I'm equally certain that IBM's Marketing Department has a much larger budget than all of MSubs.

      2. iron Silver badge

        Re: Electrical problems

        I have a background that includes sailing tall ships. The problem is the lack of a Bosun, Bosun's mate and crew to carry out the repairs that are needed constantly aboard ship.

        1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

          Re: Electrical problems

          Maybe they could get an inflatable bosun, like the co-pilot in Airplane.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Electrical problems

            No need (at least in their minds) ... they have AI!!!!!!

    4. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Electrical problems

      I'm supposing they didn't install the 30 cent version from Costco, so how did that happen ?

      I’m interested in the Costco wherever you are. Around here they are not a cheapo retailer.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Electrical problems

        Wherever you are, Costco is hardly the place one would purchase marine-grade electrical components.

  2. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Getting rid of humans to destroy jobs and greaten the risks of accidents is absolutely what we need right now.

  3. Graybyrd
    WTF?

    Inferior components

    Ex-Navy ET here (electronic tech). Navies of the world have solved the salt water, electronics, corrosion, moisture-proofing ship-board problem decades ago. It must be that these engineers have neglected basic sea-going practices and/or are procuring and installing components on the cheap.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Inferior components

      I'm guessing that somehow the managers are not from the marine environment, and have made management decisions based on their lack of knowledge, you know, Wet Finger Work... Wet your finger and find the direction of the wind. Not very useful here...

    2. david 12 Silver badge

      Re: Inferior components

      In that case, why does the Navy have electronics techs? I thought they spent time maintaining electronic equipment?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Inferior components

        Maintenance is important in any kit that humans use. People break shit. Throw in the marine environment, and a simple ripped seal/gasket becomes a show-stopper if not properly replaced. Etc.

        But there is also calibration, repair, removing old and fitting new, emergencies (might be kind of important in a warship), etc.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Inferior components

          > Maintenance is important in any kit that humans use.

          Unless you're of the clueless kind who would reason "My refrigerator has been running for 6+ years without needing a mechanic, why would a ship be any different? We just have to have her built by that refrigerator manufacturer! See, that's why they pay me the big bucks...".

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Inferior components

            On the other hand, my refrigeration systems get regular maintenance ... I clean out the interiors, make sure the sealing surfaces actually seal, vacuum out the coils, check the start-up load on the compressor and the like.

            You DO have a spare 3 'n 1 for your fridge, just in case, right?

        2. david 12 Silver badge

          Re: Inferior components

          Right. So Navy ships have exactly the same kinds of problems as this boat, and solve those problems by having people on board.

      2. Mike 16 Silver badge

        Spent time maintaining electronic equipment

        Which some times (or so I have heard :-) that maintenance involves chipping paint to to make a better looking paint job. Of course, when the pain is being chipped off a radar wave-guide, using a hammer, sometimes other maintenance (or an acceptance of the idea that "well, we didn't need Radar before WWII") is called for.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Spent time maintaining electronic equipment

          A hammer?

          Most of us use needle scalers.

  4. macjules

    Have you tried …

    … switching it off and on again?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Have you tried …

      First bit easy. Second...not so much.

    2. katrinab Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Have you tried …

      Remotely, when there is no electricity?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Have you tried …

        But it's SOLAR! They said so!

  5. aldolo

    harry up. drug dealers are waiting

    is there any other use for un unmanned boat?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: harry up. drug dealers are waiting

      The Chinese think so: launching unmanned drones. https://www.theregister.com/2022/05/29/unmanned_dronecarrying_research_ship_launches

      But the US doesn't like China getting US technology so IBM will have been shut out from that contract.

      1. VoiceOfTruth

        Re: harry up. drug dealers are waiting

        -> But the US doesn't like China getting US technology

        The US has stolen technology throughout its history.

    2. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: harry up. drug dealers are waiting

      > is there any other use for un unmanned boat?

      Fill 'er up with explosives and point her towards your target...

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: harry up. drug dealers are waiting

        Or, in this case, your foot.

  6. Lon24 Silver badge
    Happy

    Good to sea IBM ...

    ... sponsoring a RaspberryPi powered ship. Presumably the optional cooling fans have been repurposed to provide propulsion - all of 1 knot when I checked the dashboard.

    However, augmenting it with sails rather than diesel generators might gave been more in keeping with its namesake!

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Good to sea IBM ...

      Sails aren't as green as you might think. Do you have any idea how much energy it takes to keep several hundred square feet of sail properly deployed in ever changing RealWorld conditions? And what would a robot do if one got ripped in a storm?

  7. R.O.
    Headmaster

    "I think it's the battery"

    "Now, there's something wrong with the generator's starter battery charging circuit."

    Doesn't it eventually, always, come down to...the battery is dead?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: "I think it's the battery"

      I own a120/240V 8.5KW Generac genset with a 12V starting battery. The generator itself doesn't contain the 12V DC circuitry to charge the battery ... you have to plug in a wall-wart once it's running, and then plug that into a convenient jack on the front panel.

      You don't suppose?

      Real (wo)men actually read the instruction manual, not just the spec sheet!

      1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Silver badge

        Re: "I think it's the battery"

        Why not just leave the charger plugged into your normal circuits all the time anyway? When starting the generator, the power is off, so the charger is off, so no worries about protecting it from the starting transients. Then when the generator is running, the charger should work again -- at 8.5 kW I assume your whole house is connected.

        I have a customer with a fancy office trailer (usually fed from shore power, 208V three-phase for 120V per leg) with a sizeable generator that *does* have an alternator for recharge, yet still added a solar panel for trickle charging in case the generator's control circuits (12V) get left enabled between uses. There's no way to deactivate it aside from removing the wires, but it handles the starter's undervoltage just fine.

        (The one time the controls wouldn't wake, it wasn't a dead battery -- the 3A fuse blew! Auto parts store saved the day.)

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: "I think it's the battery"

          That particular genset is in a maintenance truck ... its wired into the truck's system.

          The house's generator is considerably larger ... Can charge the battery at full power and run the house simultaneously, without worrying about juggling loads. Normally we're on solar. Finally.

          PG&E? Who's that?

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: "I think it's the battery"

            I should add that the battery being charged at full power is the house's battery bank ... that generator has a separate circuit for charging its own startup battery.

            For a look at a similar completely off-grid whole-house solution, take a look at what these people are doing clear across the country from me. Note that the guy with the beard is a certified electrician, and this setup passes all applicable laws and insurance requirements for their jurisdiction. Also note that they upgraded the system mid-stream, increasing the power capability and getting rid of the fscking useless used Tesla batteries in favo(u)r of the technologically vastly superior LiFePO.

            https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLq7klqOTp1a9wv-2EYae6dzzf663mCvvj

    2. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: "I think it's the battery"

      Its the DNS.

      It is always the DNS.

  8. EBG

    beats me

    as to how this was ever deemed to conform to Col Regs rule 5. Or did it just get a free pass, just "because", along with "self drving" cars.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: beats me

      Yes.

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    The original Mayflower would have been crammed with humanity. A better name for this one would have been Marie Celeste.

    1. jake Silver badge
      Pint

      ::snort::

    2. Mr Dogshit
      Headmaster

      Mary Celeste.

      1. Francis Boyle

        No need to diss

        one of Conan Doyle's finest fictions.

  10. Ball boy

    It must be a nightmare for their PR team: all the faults so far have been attributed to the workings (or not) of the diesel engine subsystems.

    The website stresses the solar cells provide power for the ship but 1Kw of converted sunlight won't ever keep a pair of 20Kw electric motors spinning. Perhaps it's time to come clean ('come clean' - see what I did there?) about the pair of diesels that provide some 95% of the motive power and admit that the solar tech is just there to keep the RPi's and their subsystems awake and CO2-free?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Actually, it would appear that just ONE of the pair of diesels provided the 21.9kW motive power at 48V, in a kind of jury-rigged diesel-electric setup. The other provided about 4kW at 12V for the electronics. And neither the twain shall meet ... There is no redundancy.

      From my perspective, after reading what I can find on this boondoggle, the solar panels are just auxiliary window dressing, there to make the scientifically ignorant greenaholics happy-happy.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Seriously?

        Did they ban all the marine engineers from the room or something?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Seriously?

          I suspect they were there, and voiced their concerns. But they heard the same answer that any of us involved in IT for a few decades have heard over and over:

          Sorry. It's not in the budget.

          Funny how there's always enough money to FIX it, though ...

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Seriously?

            "Funny how there's always enough money to FIX it, though ... "

            The opposite of government, especially local government, vanity projects where there's always money to build/create/install them but never any for repairs or maintenance.

          2. Mike 16 Silver badge

            Always enough to fix it?

            Maybe not always. You just gave me a flashback to a major project of a major networking company. Some of us were asking about a feature which could absolutely not be implemented with the design as planned.

            Brought up and ignored for months at planning meetings.

            Time to release to production, and the feature was quietly removed from the spec, as if "We never intended to provide that", much like a typical house-cat not quite making a jump smoothly.

    2. ThatOne Silver badge
      Facepalm

      > It must be a nightmare for their PR team

      Definitely a nightmare, and I expect the whole thing will be quickly scrubbed from history:

      Even if the failures were due to simple generator issues, the project was an IBM project, and it doesn't look too good for IBM's capacity to assess and solve rather simple and well-known problems...

      1. Sam not the Viking Silver badge

        It's not a nightmare

        A nightmare?

        I think it's nothing less than a disgrace. As has been pointed out previously, if it were an under-funded group of enthusiastic novices, so be it. But it's not.

  11. pavel.petrman Silver badge

    Interesting in context...

    with the recent Reg opinion article about the robot-built datacenter on the Moon.

    Yes, Kon-Tiki was perfectly capable of sailing halfway around the world, in the same sense the Apollo program was capable of taking a couple of men to the Moon and back again. One tends to compare the lunar datacenter to the IBM sailboat in this context.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Interesting in context...

      It actually sailed from S America to Easter Island. The latter might be one of the most isolated inhabited islands but it wasn't a halfway round the world voyage. It's a very long time since I read the book but as I recall the argument was that because it was possible to construct a raft with materials and pre-Columbian technology that could sail to Easter Island then that was how it was populated ignoring the fact that its population was Polynesian.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Interesting in context...

        It was a cool adventure, to be sure. But the "science" behind it was twaddle.

        1. Stork Silver badge

          Re: Interesting in context...

          Yep, Heyerdahl also proved that a haystack could cross the Atlantic

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Interesting in context...

        "It actually sailed from S America to Easter Island."

        I didn't parse this fully last night ... The Kon-tiki missed Hanga Roa ("Easter Island") by a thousand or so miles to the north, and landed a couple thousand away to the west, on a bit of a reef off Raroia atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago. Hanga Roa would be rather difficult to intentionally drift into due to its position with respect to the Humboldt Current.

        (My mother came home with a copy of Heyerdahl's book in the late 50s or early 60s. Being the insatiable bookworm that I was back then, I proceeded to devour it. My Dad, ever the practical one, suggested I write a book report on it ... at which point it went from "science" to "ripping yarn" as the holes in his theories made themselves rather obvious.)

  12. Johnb89

    Its a hardware problem...

    ... and IBM is a software company.

    Nothing like the hubris of people working well outside their domain. "All problems are solvable with more data!"

    Too cynical? See this article.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Its a hardware problem...

      Last time I checked, IBM was still a hardware company.

      Sadly, however, IBM is no longer run by engineers. Rather, it is run by Marketers.

      Story of our times, that, and probably the legacy the Zoomers will leave for posterity.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Its a hardware problem...

        I'm not entirely sure Marketers is the exact term. Do they have any talents other than climbing corporate political hierarchies?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Its a hardware problem...

          Well, whoever made the decisions was clearly annoying people who knew better. Sounds like marketing to me.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Its a hardware problem...

            Or just ignoring them. If it doesn't support the top manglement's group think anything that's said is just random sound devoid of meaning.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Its a hardware problem...

              True enough.

              Sad thing is, it could probably be made to work properly with just a little bit more funding (probably less than 5% of the total original estimate). I'll bet they'll spend more than 10 times that trying to force the bad design to work before they give up on it.

      2. Mike 16 Silver badge

        Re: Its a hardware problem...

        "Still a hardware company"

        Once was a time (since before the change from CTR to IBM) that IBM was _very_ good at "hardware", in the cogwheels and levers sense. I recall reading about a business in Texas still using a card-based system (keypunch, sorter, accounting machine, etc.) as recently as 2010.

        http://ibm-1401.info/402.html

        And (the mechanical guts of) and IBM 350 disk drive is still functional at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.

        The problem with selling hardware is that the vendor cannot stoke the "need" for a complete replacement with an urgent update to correct a few hundred emoji.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Its a hardware problem...

          I have a working (kinda) CTR meat slicer in need of restoration. The only reason I haven't restored it (yet ... not for sale) is because I already had a 1920s hand-cranked deli slicer that I restored about a year before I found the CTR.

          1. Mike 16 Silver badge

            Hardware and its maintenance

            Have you tried hiring an experienced restoration guy:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8VhNF_0I5c

            Unless, of course, you _are_ such. :-)

            1. jake Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: Hardware and its maintenance

              I do my own work, it's a form of meditation for me. But ta anyway.

  13. YetAnotherJoeBlow Bronze badge

    What is scary is the number of businesses that have bet the farm on automation and eliminating salaries (except theirs).

    Wait tll that bill becomes due...

  14. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Tracking a boat across the Atlantic

    Maybe they should ask for some external consultancy from Ollie and Harry Ferguson:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-44000843

    "A family tracking the progress of a toy boat voyaging across the Atlantic from Aberdeenshire say they have received a signal from the craft again - after fears its batteries had run out."

    Although they have avoided the issues of diesel generators, and their boat is a lot smaller than IBM's.

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Calling all marketers

      If they get the whole way they can give a press release that says "Better than IBM!"

  15. Zanzibar Rastapopulous

    Nauticalia

    Why didn't they use an existing design of a type that's done the crossing a thousand times?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Nauticalia

      NIH

  16. Martin Gregorie

    And another thing...

    I notice that, the 'Tracking data' page on the Mayflower website is severely minimal. To me, a 'course tracking' display should display both the planned course and the course actually sailed. Instead, all that's shown is the planned course and the current position, which has never coincided with the planned course when I've visited the site.

    Given that it may be quite difficult to keep such a small, slow craft on a planned course on the open sea, it would be very interesting to see the whole course it has actually sailed to date. That should be easy to show too, since its a reasonable assumption that its operators will have archived its reported set of positions for later analysis. Consequently, I wonder why this detail isn't shown: it would make the site a lot more interesting to visit.

    1. G R Goslin

      Re: And another thing...

      They did, at first, display the actual course sailed. But then, so many things went wrong, with the ship drifting, powerless, they seem to have abandoned the display of something which invites ridicule. Rather like concealing the fact that the ship is entirely powered by diesel engines, and by the wind and waves when it is not, when even the simplest calculation reveals that it is entirely impossible to power the ship from the output of the solar panels alone.

    2. G R Goslin

      Re: And another thing...

      Re, the power required for propulsion. You can actually assess the power required at any given thime. On the page marked "Mission Control" is a line marked "Propeller percent", which is a measure of the power to the propeller shaft. taking the declared continuous power from the main diesel engine, of 21.9KW, you can work out how hard the engines are worked to provide the speed indicated. Setting that against the declared output from the solar panels, if anything, will give the lie to the claim that the ship is driven by the power from the solar panels.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: And another thing...

        > Setting that against the declared output from the solar panels, if anything, will give the lie to the claim that the ship is driven by the power from the solar panels

        Yes, but only for the 1% of engineers and scientists. The 99% of normal people will see the solar panels, read the blurb, and go with "100% eco-friendly, distributes candy to passing whales".

  17. Glenn Amspaugh

    Look To Earlier, Successful Work

    Why not look at what makes probes like Voyager 1 and 2 so resilient and make your ocean going craft based on that ancient tech?

    I mean, with all these generator issues, why continue using a diesel generator? Use what they put on space and Mars probes.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Look To Earlier, Successful Work

      For one thing, the Voyagers don't have a lot of salt water to contend with. Not a lot of vibration out there, either.

    2. Zanzibar Rastapopulous

      Re: Look To Earlier, Successful Work

      Diesel generators are well known and extremely reliable, they've been working away on millions of ships for near enough a century.

      God knows how they can't get one that works.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Look To Earlier, Successful Work

        They've been working on other ships since donkeys years, with the caveat that there is usually a person with a spanner there to fix issues if they don't (Which on ships is often small things easily fixed like a fuel oil line vibrating slightly loose causing a leak, corrosion on bus-bars or relatively simple electrical gremlins)

    3. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: Look To Earlier, Successful Work

      > why continue using a diesel generator? Use what they put on space and Mars probes.

      Yikes! Having a radioisotope thermoelectric generator adrift in the middle of the Atlantic would give epic proportions to this otherwise minor PR disaster...

      Besides, who said they wouldn't screw this up too? As others said, it's not like diesel generators are untested cutting edge technology.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hope IBM fails at every signal endeavor. They deserve it for all the evil they have done to older white employees.

  19. G R Goslin

    Where the F are we?

    For those anxious for a better indication of progress. if you tap on the ship symbol in the map, then a pop-up will give you the current lat/long of the ship, it's speed and heading. Tranferring this to Google Maps (sorry, no cut and paste), the distance tool will give you miles-to-go. Given the seeming inability of the AI navigation to keep the ship aimed at the US/Canada continent, never mind the destination of Halifax, and it's lamentable speed, the AI estimation of landfall on the 4th/5th of June seems a trifle optimistic. My own personal view is that the AI Captain is merely a name card on someone's desk, who is charged with issuing misleading and erroneous information.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Where the F are we?

      "if you tap on the ship symbol in the map, then a pop-up will give you the current lat/long of the ship, it's speed and heading."

      Thanks for that, I would never have found it. I wonder why it's not included in "other info".

      Thus neatly proving that web design by committee is never a good idea ... Honestly, how many people worked on that monstrosity, each adding their pet thingie?

  20. cameronag

    Come on, guys, it's well known amongst sailors that there's always something broken on a boat. If there isn't then something is about to break!

    Autonomous vessels have been around for decades, sporting autohelm or wind vane systems to follow or hold a course. But when something breaks it needs a meatbag to fix it. On a sailing vessel it can be a simple as a worn piece of rope, or a shackle that's come undone. On a power vessel vessel it can be as complex and difficult as a rudder bearing failure or even a GPS dropout! We serve the machines!

    What scares me is how these vessels are supposed to deal with busy shipping activity around ports and harbours where you cannenounter everything from heavily laden container ships to racing dinghies, kayakers and free-swimmers. And there is no "right of way", only an obligation to avoid a collision.

  21. G R Goslin

    Yer, 'av to larf!

    Once again, the Mayflower is under tow. The last I saw of it under power, it was 303 miles from it's destination, and doing 2 knots, in, for the Atlantic near perfect conditions. A glance at it now, and it was doing 9 knots, unprecedented. A look at the camera view revealed that a tug was towing it, and it's own power was off. Oh, dear. Hardly a successful operation. Perhaps, next time, a cargo ship could tow them the whole way, and they could claim not to have burned a gramme of carbon, on the passage.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Yer, 'av to larf!

      Doesn't look like a tug. Looks like a fishing boat of some description. The speed also suggest this, most tugs wont tow above 5-6 knots in the open ocean. They aren't out to set speed records, they are there to get the tow to where it needs to be, with minimal histrionics. The more boring the trip, the better.

      Ocean-going tugs are expensive to rent by the day[0] ... but if you slip the owner-operator of a fishing boat a couple-five(ish) grand and a full tank of diesel to go get your tupperware toy a couple hundred miles off the coast, he'll probably jump on it. Especially off-season.

      [0] A short notice rental of an appropriate sized ocean-going tug, captain and crew, plus insurance, might be in excess of $7,500/day. Maybe more today, at the price of diesel ...

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Yer, 'av to larf!

      "for the Atlantic near perfect conditions"

      Looked flat ... I have a buddy who would insist on trying to ski on it.

      "A glance at it now, and it was doing 9 knots"

      Under tow. Not exactly the safest for a dead in the water boat with no crew ...

  22. G R Goslin

    Here we go again!

    I see that the Mayflower, is once more out at sea, once more under tow, and once more heading in the wrong direction. I noticed, the other day, that there was some action on board, in Halifax haebour. So, it was likely that more action was planned, to grasp ridicule, in the face of continuous disaster. I meant to keep an eye open for progress. Unfortunately, I missed the departure (Bands playing, people cheering?). When I got to open the story, a familiar sight. The Mayflower under tow. It was a while before I noticed the the ship was heading back to Halifax, rather than the open seas. It's a laugh a minute with this ill fated expedition, on it's way into the record books as the least successful crossing of the Atlantic, since The Titanic.

  23. G R Goslin

    Well, that's a relief

    The Mayflower, is once again safely moored in the same place it has been since it's triumphant arrival at a place it was not supposed to be, [powered by systems it was not supposed to have. Towed there by a boat which no-one seems to have mentioned.

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