Self-Driving Boats in Amsterdam Can Move People and Goods

2020/10/29 21:46

Today's Vocabulary

1. autonomous (adj)
an autonomous machine or system is able to operate without being controlled directly by humans

2. waterways (n)
a narrow area of water, such as a river or canal, that ships or boats can sail along

3. canals (n)
a long, thin stretch of water that is artificially made either for boats to travel along or for taking water from one area to another

4. map (v)
to represent an area of land in the form of a map

5. propellers (n)
a device that causes a ship or aircraft to move, consisting of two or more blades that spin at high speed

6. transport (v)
to take goods or people from one place to another

7. sail (v)
a trip by boat or ship

Self-Driving Boats in Amsterdam Can Move People and Goods

The development and testing of self-driving car technology has seen major progress in recent years. But engineers are working on other kinds of autonomous vehicles too — including some built for water.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, are leading one such project. The engineers have been developing autonomous water vehicles they call “roboats.” The word is a combination of “robot” and “boat.”

The project – which began in 2016 – aims to create a group of boats to transport goods and people along the waterways of Amsterdam. The Dutch capital has been called the world’s “most watery city” because of its large network of canals.

The engineers centered past efforts on autonomous boats designed to transport small goods. But the project’s latest creation, the Roboat II, can also carry passengers. The electric-powered Roboat II has four propellers that permit it to move in any direction.

It is equipped with a series of cameras and sensors to guide its movements. It also uses LiDAR, a technology that uses light lasers to map the environment and measure distances.

The boats are designed to use the sensor-collected data to create and “pilot a path between a series of goal points,” the researchers say.

There have already been some experiments with autonomous shipping vehicles. In September, it was announced that an ocean research vehicle called the Mayflower Autonomous Ship would attempt to set sail across the Atlantic without a captain or crew on board.


  1. What do you think about what you read?
  2. How can robots help humans?
  3. Do you think robots could ever take over the world?

“To reach a port we must set sail – Sail, not tie at anchor Sail, not drift.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt