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A replica of the original ship

In 1620, the Mayflower made its historic journey across the Atlantic Ocean, bringing the people who came to be known as the Pilgrims from England to what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. Recently, a new high-tech Mayflower made a similar trip. Only this time, no captain or crew kept the ship on course.

Instead, the vessel called the Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) relied on artificial intelligence, or AI, to navigate the more than 3,000-mile-long journey this past July. The ship collected data about ocean wildlife and climate change while researchers remotely tested its trailblazing technology at sea.

Experts predict that the new Mayflower will be the wave of the future. They say captains in the shipping and travel industries could use its autonomous technology to identify risks mid-voyage. The vessel’s successful test run means “that more and more ships like MAS can safely roam our seas and teach us more about the planet on which we live,” co-creator Brett Phaneuf told reporters.