a robot boat captain?

Self-driving cars have always been a vision of the future, and may very soon actually be hitting the roads. Thanks to a joint effort between MIT and the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions, autonomous boats may not be that far behind.

The concept is dubbed the “Roboat Project.”  The idea is to revolutionize metropolitan transportation in canal laden cities such as Amsterdam. The nearly $30 million project will bring a fleet of robotic, self-piloted vessels to the canals of the Dutch capital starting in 2017.

Carlo Ratti, one of the MIT professors working on the project, said the “Roboats” won’t just be for “shuttling people and cargo around, the boats could also be used to create dynamic and temporary floating infrastructure like on-demand bridges and stages that can be assembled or disassembled in a matter of hours.”

roboats in Amsterdam

The implications of the technology do not stop there. According to the project the Roboats will also be used to gather data for scientific analysis. The Roboats will be designed to gather data on environmental aspects like water quality, air quality and noise. They will also be used to explore ways to detect water-borne diseases at an early stage, find more efficient ways to clear the canals from floating waste, or a new approach to dredging out the 12,000 bicycles a year which end up in the Dutch city’s canals.

The researchers say Amsterdam was an ideal location to “test drive” the concept since  one-quarter of the city is covered by water, and its canal system is still a vital part of its infrastructure.

The Future of Autonomous Boats

Of course, the idea of autonomous vessels has implications well beyond even those being evaluated by the Roboat project. The US navy is already using underwater and surface based “drones,” and in June of this year, the Solar Voyager, a fully autonomous solar powered boat, was launched from Gloucester, Massachusetts, and is currently attempting to cross the Atlantic, hopefully to land in Lisbon, Portugal, in the next month or so.

autonomous solar boat

The Solar Voyager

Does all of this mean we could someday see self-piloted luxury motor yachts? Perhaps, but don’t expect your yacht captain to be replaced by a robot anytime soon!

A modern motor yacht is a complicated craft, and her captain has many responsibilities, that would require a level of robotics that does not yet quite exist. So in the meantime, when you need a good captain, FYM can help!

Choosing a Captain and On Demand Yachting  

Of course a Captain must be an experienced seaman. Anyone capable of captaining a luxury motor yacht will have vast experience with ships and their operation. They will have likely worked their way on up through the ranks either in commercial, or industrial marine operations, or the military. Captains must be proven leaders, who can manage crew as well as gain the respect and confidence of the owner and all aboard.

Our unique On Demand Yachting solution can help you find the right crew for your motor yacht, including a Captain!

We will help you to define your needs, and the needs of your particular vessel, and then match you with the Captain who is the best fit.



Operating a motor yacht can be costly. Putting your boat in Charter can earn income, and defray some of the costs of ownership. On Demand Yachting from FYM can show you how. If you would like to learn more, or if you have any questions or comments about this blog post, do not hesitate to contact our Yacht Management specialists, or call us at (954) 900-9968.