When Amsterdam wanted to reduce congestion on the city streets, there was an obvious solution right before the eyes of politicians, writes AP. The city's famous canals stretches 100 kilometers and have been used for transportation for hundreds of years. To reduce the pressure on the streets, the canals must be used more efficiently than today. That's where a self-propelled electric boat comes into the picture.
MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has together with the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions, developed a fully autonomous boat called Roboat. The electric boat will shuffle the canals without a captain at the helm.
One of the advantages is that Roboat can be up and running around the clock. It could, for example, function as a floating trash bin that helps itself to the recycling facility when it's full.
The boats can also be used as taxi or tourist transport. Since the owner does not have to pay a captain, it could be profitable to have many small boats that only take a few passengers. Roboat is steered using sensor data, but the developers say they need up to four years more before the Roboat can safely be launched everywhere in the canals.
"The technology is very relevant in highly complex port operations, where you have a lot of vessels and a lot of ships and a lot of quays and piers. There you can really improve the safety with autonomous systems, but also make it more efficient and into a 24/7 operations approach” says Stephan van Dijk, Director of Innovation at the Amsterdam Institute, to AP News.
Roboat is still in a test phase and the researchers want to make sure that the boat can handle any kind of situation that could occur in the unpredictable waters. But when that day comes, the citizens and visitors of Amsterdam can enjoy fully electrical safe boats for traveling in the canals.