We are seeing how technology companies are taking more and more steps towards 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 also fits in. This is what the Roboat III project is doing.
5 people, 1,500 kg of cargo, 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 can be a perfect “cab boat” for its neighbors or a small boat for courier deliveries.
Other functions also include waste collection or the formation of a bridge on demand by combining several units. For each use, there is a special deck, and in all cases, LiDAR sensors and GPS are used to navigate the waterways without problems. Its electric motor gives an autonomy of 10 hours.
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 craft two meters long, enough to accommodate two people in it. Now the third major version of the vehicle boasts great maneuverability (it is capable of turning almost on its central axis) and special functions for delicate maneuvers (such as approaching a canal edge for someone to tie a line).
At the moment, two Roboat III units are testing in Amsterdam, but the idea is to start the first public tests soon. A fleet of boats like this can operate 24 hours a day autonomously, although for safety reasons there would be one remote operator for every 50 boats to ensure that everything goes smoothly.
Other cities such as Venice could also take advantage of such boats, and it would not be bad to see something like this on rivers in cities such as Paris, London, or Moscow.