MIT – concept of autonomous, electric boats for city infrastructure

Technology whizz kids at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have presented a concept for autonomous, electric, 3D-printed boats that can even self-assemble into other floating structures.

According to an article posted on the MIT news website: “Researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the Senseable City Lab in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), have taken a step toward that future by designing a fleet of autonomous boats that offer high maneuverability and precise control. The boats can also be rapidly 3-D printed using a low-cost printer, making mass manufacturing more feasible.

“The boats could be used to taxi people around and to deliver goods, easing street traffic. In the future, the researchers also envision the driverless boats being adapted to perform city services overnight, instead of during busy daylight hours, further reducing congestion on both roads and canals.”

The article added: “The boats — rectangular 4-by-2-meter hulls equipped with sensors, microcontrollers, GPS modules, and other hardware — could be programmed to self-assemble into floating bridges, concert stages, platforms for food markets, and other structures in a matter of hours.”

The MIT concept would most suit low level cities with waterways such as Amsterdam, Bangkok and Venice where riverine infrastructure is core to the city’s transport system.