‘Roboat’ parcel delivery?

After news of driverless cars, robot delivery Starship vehicles and flights of autonomous delivery drones we thought we’d seen it all. A ‘roboat’? An autonomous delivery boat has been developed by researchers for deliveries in and around Amsterdam.

A collaborative project between Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Amsterdam Metropolitan Solutions (AMS), the ‘roboat’ research project aims to “design and test the world’s first fleet of autonomous boats in the city of Amsterdam”.

The two technology organisations envisage a range of applications for the roboat. The machines would monitor the waters of Amsterdam’s canals for environmental purposes as well as create temporary floating infrastructures. These infrastructures would include self assembling bridges and concert stages. Finally, and of specific interest to Apex Insight readers, the roboats could be used for transporting goods. The project’s webpage on the MIT website includes a picture of a roboat loaded with parcels.

“With over 1,000 kilometers of canals, 1,500 bridges and a long-standing focus on urban innovation, the city of Amsterdam is an ideal place to test new, water-based mobility solutions,” according to MIT and AMS.

MIT and AMS announced the roboat project earlier this month, which reportedly has €25 million in funding. Presumably this concept would work beyond Amsterdam to other cities with extensive waterborne infrastructure including Venice and parts of London, so to that extent could have a lot of use in some metropolitan areas.

The first roboats are scheduled to appear on Amsterdam’s canals in 2017. The concept isn’t entirely new, with the US Navy recently taking delivery of autonomous ocean based vehicles for military use, and others are afloat on the ocean doing environmental research.

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