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MIT's Fleet of Autonomous Boats Can Now Shapeshift

By MIT News

September 6, 2019

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientists have upgraded a fleet of autonomous boats to autonomously disconnect and reassemble into different forms of floating platforms, in the canals of Amsterdam.

The rectangular roboats—a collaboration between MIT and the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions—use a new algorithm for efficient reconfiguration. This algorithm performs planning and tracking so groups of roboat units can unlatch from each another in one set formation, follow a collision-free trajectory, and reattach to their appropriate place on the new set configuration in minutes.

The researchers hope to use the roboats to form into a dynamic “bridge” across a 60-meter canal in downtown Amsterdam.

Said MIT’s Carlo Ratti, “This will be the world’s first bridge comprised of a fleet of autonomous boats.”

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