autonomous boats set to sail on the amstel river, amsterdam
autonomous boats set to sail on the amstel river, amsterdam
sep 21, 2016

autonomous boats set to sail on the amstel river, amsterdam


autonomous boats set to sail on the amstel river, amsterdam: in a collaboration with researchers at the massachusetts institute of technology (MIT), the amsterdam institute for advanced metropolitan solutions (AMS institute) has started the world’s first major research program on autonomous floating vessels in metropolitan areas. ‘roboat’ will be conducted by researchers from MIT, delft university of technology (TUD) and wageningen university and research (WUR). the five-year program has a budget of €25 million and is set in amsterdam.

autonomous boats amsterdam roboat designboom
temporary floating infrastructure like on-demand bridges and stages, can be assembled in a matter of hours



while the first prototypes of self-driving cars are taking to the road, amsterdam ushers in a new chapter in the international push for autonomous vehicles. ‘roboat’ is the world’s first large-scale research that explores and tests the rich set of possibilities for autonomous systems on water. ‘imagine a fleet of autonomous boats for the transportation of goods and people,’ says carlo ratti, professor at MIT and principal investigator in the roboat-program, ‘but also think of dynamic and temporary floating infrastructure like on-demand bridges and stages, that can be assembled or disassembled in a matter of hours.’

autonomous boats amsterdam roboat designboom
autonomous boats can be used for the transportation of goods and people alike



‘roboat offers enormous possibilities,’ says professor arjan van timmeren, AMS institute’s scientific director, ‘as we’ll also be exploring environmental sensing. we could for instance do further research on underwater robots that can detect diseases at an early stage or use roboats to rid the canals from floating waste and find a more efficient way to handle the 12,000 bicycles that end up in the city’s canals each year.’

autonomous boats amsterdam roboat designboom
further research is underway at AMS to integrate the detection of underwater diseases



the research, with a €25 million budget, is set in amsterdam but aims to become a reference study for many urban areas around the globe. ‘it is a fantastic opportunity for amsterdam,’ says the city’s alderman and vice mayor kajsa ollongren. ‘to have the world’s most prominent scientists work on solutions with autonomous boats in this way is unprecedented, and most fitting for a city where water and technology have been linked for ages.’


the first prototypes of ‘roboat’ will be visible in the waters of amsterdam in 2017.

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