autonomous boats connect to form movable bridges in amsterdam

autonomous boats connect to form movable bridges in amsterdam

in collaboration with the amsterdam institute for advanced metropolitan solutions (AMS institute), researchers at MIT senseable city lab have developed a dynamic bridge concept made of autonomous boats. dubbed ’roundAround’, the project uses roboat units to connect one of the main waterways in amsterdam, transporting hundreds of people per hour across the water and reducing journey times between the city center and marineterrein from 10 minutes to 2.

MIT researchers develop roundAround: a movable bridge made of autonomous boats designboom

all images courtesy of MIT senseable city lab



’roundAround is one of the first proposed applications of roboat, our research in collaboration with AMS institute,’ says carlo ratti, director of the senseable city lab and professor of the practice at MIT. ‘the roboat units of roundAround will autonomously respond to and learn from the dynamics of this amsterdam waterway. as they operate, the system will become increasingly more intelligent and well-equipped to be implemented in other parts of the city and other cities worldwide.’

MIT researchers develop roundAround: a movable bridge made of autonomous boats designboom



‘bridging this waterway truly challenges urban engineers, as it’s an important fixed mast route for bigger boats. this makes it challenging to design an accessible bridge across this canal. with roboat as a dynamic infrastructure we can potentially connect the two areas and use roundAround as a living lab to develop on-site experience on how autonomous boats behave on the amsterdam canals. involving citizens and visitors of the area roundAround would provide the research project with valuable continuous feedback loops’ says stephan van dijk, head of research at AMS institute.

MIT researchers develop roundAround: a movable bridge made of autonomous boats designboom



the bridge works by the constant circular movement of the roboat units. once at the quayside, these electric boats are guided by rail to a platform with inductive charging infrastructure where they can pick up and drop off passengers. platforms are furnished with benches for passengers along with interpretive material showing details and real-time updates about the roboat project.

MIT researchers develop roundAround: a movable bridge made of autonomous boats designboom



equipped with cameras and lidar technologies powered by artificial intelligence, roundAround’s multifunctional hulls are designed to transport people and goods across the canal while constantly evaluating the surrounding environment to maximize safety and efficiency. transporting people and deploying a flexible infrastructure are just two of the possible uses of the roboat platform. other roboat uses include collecting household garbage and transporting construction materials via amsterdam’s canals, both of which could relieve pressure from the busy roads in the city center.

MIT researchers develop roundAround: a movable bridge made of autonomous boats designboom



project info:


project name: ’roundAround’

design: MIT senseable city lab

in collaboration with: the amsterdam institute for advanced metropolitan solutions (AMS institute)

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