We are seeing how technology companies take more and more steps to achieve autonomous cars in cities, but what happens when these cities are full of canals? Well, in that case the idea of an autonomous boat that can navigate on its own. It is what is realizing the Roboat III project.
5 people, 1,500 kg load or “bridge on demand” function
This small boat that you can see in the video is 4 meters long and is capable of carrying five people, or even 1,500 kg of cargo. It is being tested in Amsterdam, a city where there are so many canals that the Roboat III it can be a perfect “barcotaxi” for your neighbors or a small boat where you can make a courier delivery.
Other functions also include garbage collection, or the formation of a bridge on demand combining several units. There is a special cover for each use, and in all cases LiDAR sensors and a GPS are used to be able to navigate the channels without problems. Its electric motor gives an autonomy of 10 hours.
The development of the Roboat has been active since 2016, and since then it has undergone several design and size changes. A key point in the development was when they managed to make the boat two meters long, enough to accommodate two people on it. Now the third great version of the vehicle boasts great maneuverability (it is able to turn almost on its own central axis) and special functions for delicate maneuvers (such as approaching an edge of the channel so that someone can tie a line).
At the moment there are two Roboat III units doing tests in Amsterdam, but the idea is to start making the first public tests soon. A fleet of ships like this can operate 24 hours a day autonomously, although for security reasons there would be one remote operator for every 50 ships to ensure that everything goes well.
Other cities such as Venice could also take advantage of this type of boat, and it would not be bad to see something like this in rivers in cities such as Paris, London or Moscow.