A multi-million pound transatlantic robot boat could carry your name on a 'Mayflower pilgrimage' from Plymouth, England to Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

A multi-million pound transatlantic robot boat could carry your name on a ‘Mayflower pilgrimage’ from Plymouth, England to Plymouth USA.

The fundraising team behind the Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) are launching a crowdfunding campaign later this month offering individuals the chance to etch their name on the side of the trimaran when it is built.

It’s the 21st Century version of the Mayflower and will sail, without crew, to America in 2020 on the 400th anniversary of the original Mayflower sailing.

Organisers need £300,000 for the crucial design and development stage – which will include robust wave tank scale-model testing – to get the boat from blueprint to boatyard.

‘New pilgrims’ are being offered the chance to get their name written into history. For £20 you can put your name on the boat; for £50, you can put your family’s name on it and for £35 you can put two names and a significant date.

“So far we have the plans, the passion, the potential and now all we need is to get it to production,” said Patrick Dowsett.

“It is ground-breaking in so many ways and will put Plymouth on the global map for marine science excellence. We are offering everyone a chance to get involved in this incredible Devon project,’ said Patrick, who spent 30 years in the Royal Navy, including time as a commander in charge of HMS Northumberland.

“This first stage will nail down the planning, testing, project development and modelling to enable us to start the build of the real thing in 2018,” he said.

The MAS will be a 32m long, carbon fibre trimaran, 16m wide. Design and testing of the boat will take about 18 months. The team will start building it in 2018 and trials will start late 2018.


Replica of the original Mayflower


The launch will cement the Plymouth’s reputation as a global centre of marine excellence and a marine science hub.

The MAS will be the first vessel of its kind to sail without captain or crew across the Atlantic and be able to conduct scientific research around the world.

With driverless cars already on the horizon and airlines using computers to fly planes, MAS could lead the way to changing the way the shipping industry works.

It can be controlled by a computer or by a captain sitting behind a virtual bridge onshore. It would sail out of Plymouth via remote control and switch to autonomous control once at sea.

It will be solar powered, with cutting edge battery and renewable energy capture, travelling to inhospitable parts of the world to conduct scientific research and collect data.

There will be unmanned aerial vehicles plus life rafts on board to respond to distress calls from other mariners.

The MAS will be built in Plymouth and the south west, a collaboration between Plymouth submarine builder MSubs, Plymouth University and charitable marine research foundation Promare.