The Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) will use technology provider Videosoft’s low-bandwidth video streaming technology to help relay high-quality footage of the ship’s missions back to land
On its maiden voyage, the 15-m long lightweight, autonomous ship Mayflower will trace the route of its 17th century antecedent’s transatlantic voyage from Plymouth, UK, to Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Videosoft’s technology will help capture footage from the Mayflower’s six onboard cameras at sea. Using satellite connectivity and compression technologies, footage will be transmitted back to AI developers and research scientists providing real-time feedback and visuals during the mission. It will also be used to provide the media and public with updates about events that occur over the course of the voyage.
The Mayflower Autonomous Ship’s chief technology officer Don Scott said “The ability to receive live video feed from the ship using minimal communication bandwidth is a game-changer for us. Videosoft provides real-time telepresence allowing us to reliably monitor the live situation and give us confidence in the vehicle’s operation at sea. It has already been an invaluable tool during sea trials and we look forward to having the live feed during the voyage itself.”
Videosoft chief executive Stewart McCone said “This project is designed to transform humanity’s relationship with the ocean. To say we’re totally thrilled to be involved in the MAS project would be an understatement.
Mr McCone added “Streaming live video from ocean-going vessels is not straightforward; you really need to know what you’re doing to pull it off successfully. An intelligent transmission protocol is required to maintain connectivity. In addition to switching between satellite and cellular networks, variable signal strength, the topography of network masts, atmospheric conditions, satellite capabilities, speed, and variables all impact the available bandwidth.”
The company has developed software specifically for the satellite and cellular industry to negate the typical issues that arise when using such networks, making it possible to have eyes on the ocean 24/7 and to reduce video from the Mayflower with any streamed video automatically adapting to the amount of available bandwidth, while retaining good quality.
The MAS project is led by marine research organisation ProMare alongside IBM (which acts as both lead technology partner and lead scientific partner) with other key design and construction partners including MSUBs, Aluship and MarineAI.
The AI captain at the helm is powered by IBM’s computer vision, automation and machine learning technologies and maintains constant situational awareness, making decisions about what to do next in line with collision regulations.
Small, lightweight edge devices from NVIDIA provide local computer power for operational independence relying on IBM Cloud connectivity when available.
Videosoft’s ability to provide reliable video streams creates a real-time situational awareness that is critical to the operational success of the MAS project. The service scans the horizon for hazards as the Mayflower sails. The software runs on IBM’s platform and is linked via satellite.
Mr McCone added “We’re showing that this specialist tech does exist and that we can enable all internet of things applications for the common good.”
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