After self-driving cars, it’s now the turn of boats. Amsterdam is all set become the world’s first city to have self-driving boats in its canals next year. Under a five-year programme, called Roboat, researchers from MIT and two Dutch universities plan to have the first self-driving boats floating on Amsterdam’s canals by 2017.
Amsterdam is a city of water and boating, both recreational and commercial, has long been part of the city’s culture. The city’s area comprises one-fourth of water and has about 100 kms of canals. These have traditionally been used for transportation since the 17th century. Navigation speed in the city’s canals is capped at 7.5 kms per hour. The Roboats would focus on transporting people as well as goods. According to the researchers, the Roboats could also be used to track environmental conditions and comb the canals for waste, including the 12,000 bicycles that end up in the water every year.
According to advocates of automated fleets, these are safer than those operated by humans. The Roboats project will also explore the creation of data-gathering robots to help with public health issues. Robots in the sewer systems can extract sample data from human waste and then map the spread of various conditions, from influenza to diabetes.
After car drivers, it would now be boatmen whose jobs get threatened by advancing technology.