400 years later, a new Mayflower will sail without humans

PLYMOUTH, England (AP) — The Mayflower is taking to the water in Plymouth harbor.

It’s not the ship that left this southwest England port 400 years ago carrying Pilgrim settlers to America. The sleek vessel being readied Tuesday for its official launch has no passengers, no crew — but like its predecessor, an ambitious mission.

The 50-foot (15-meter) trimaran has “no one on board, no captain, no place to eat, no place to sleep,” said Brett Phaneuf, co-director of the Mayflower Autonomous Ship project. “It’s sophisticated artificial intelligence that will captain the ship across the ocean.”

The ship is set to follow in its forebear’s footsteps by crossing the Atlantic from Plymouth, England, to Plymouth, Massachusetts, this time on a marine research trip. Its creators hope it will be the first in a new generation of high-tech vessels that can explore ocean regions which have been too difficult or dangerous for people to go.

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