Sun Dec 10 2017

First self-driving boat drives through the Amsterdam canals

Amsterdam Big Data company Xomnia launches the self-driving boat

The car industry is well on its way with the first self-driving cars.  But what about self-driving boats? Big Data company Xomnia has built the first self-driving boat that works entirely on artificial intelligence. A world premiere! Xomnia proves that you can make a self-driving boat with a minimal budget, five cameras, and a deep learning application.

From lifeboat to self-driving boat

In 2016, Xomnia bought an old lifeboat which they were using to drive through the Amsterdam canals during the summer. One scratch after the other appeared on the boat because of the busy canals, so initiator Pieter Boon, partner at Xomnia, came up with the idea to make the boat self-driving. ‘As a big data company, we should be able to develop self-driving boat technology, right?’ Pieter stated. ‘Paul van Hagen, deep learning fanatic, was looking for a new challenge and soon the idea of the self-driving boat was converted into a project. Whereas other autonomous vehicle projects often invest millions and are based on robotics, it was our challenge to get the boat self-driving based on artificial intelligence with a limited budget‘, says Pieter.

The artificial intelligence acts on intuition

Paul explains that with the aid of  five cameras the environment of the boat is charted. ‘The images that enter the computer from the cameras are the eyes of the boat and are passed directly to the deep learning network. A deep learning network is inspired by the functioning of the brain. ‘In this way, the artificial intelligence works just like us. The boat handles based on the gained experience and the collected data. The technology has taught itself which movements the boat has to make in which situation. Front or back left or right. That way the boat sails completely independently. We do have an emergency button, Pieter remarks, with the button we can immediately take over the control of the system.

Further development

The next step in the development of our autonomous technology will be in partnering with Shipping Factory. Xomnia will start making one of their ships self-driving, a 135 meter long inland container ship.

With these activities, Xomnia hopes to push the development in the autonomous maritime sector forward. And  secretly, we also want to make a small statement. With a pragmatic approach and the right people on board, you do not need millions to realize innovations.

Self-driving boat in the Media

NOS Journaal, AT5, and several publications. You can see the videos and the read the articles here.

More about the self-driving boat

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