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ENCX used in Mayflower Autonomous Ship

Instead of a human captain, a ‘AI Captain’ system will pilot the ship and help it avoid ocean hazards – from other vessels, to floating debris and ocean storms.

In fact, there are few similarities between the Mayflower Autonomous Ship and its 1620 namesake other than the name and the Plymouth UK to Plymouth Massachusetts challenge and the pioneering spirit of those behind it.

A moral compass

The Mayflower Autonomous Ship is the creation of ocean science non-profit ProMare. ProMare’s founding Director Brett Phaneuf came up with the idea in 2016 to demonstrate the potential of autonomy at sea in redefining humanity’s relationship with the ocean. Since then, ProMare’s vision has attracted many high-profile partners around the world including IBM, NVIDIA, ENCX and many others.


The vision is for the autonomous technologies behind MAS to power all kinds of vessels of the future – from marine research to commercial shipping. MAS itself will be on a mission to gather critical oceanographic data in order to help scientists on land to understand and mitigate the threats of climate change, ocean pollution and over exploitation.

An oceanic challenge

The absence of a crew allows MAS to spend long durations at sea. This also presents many problems around how the vessel will navigate itself. Who will make the decisions that a mariner would in difficult, changing conditions? This has been an epic challenge as many tasks on board typically rely heavily on human control and intervention.

MarineAI is playing a leading role in solving these problems and making sure the vessel can make its own decisions without a crew.

“One of the many challenges was how would the vessel know what depths of water were safe to sail in for such a long voyage? Usually, this activity is monitored by the crew. We have solved the problem with the implementation of the ENCX SDK” said Don Scott of MarineAI.

ENCX is a fully featured SDK to add charting functionality to third party software and is a CherSoft, part of the Weilbach group, offering.

MarineAI uses the ENCX SDK onboard MAS to derive depths and navigational hazards from ENC chart data so that a safe route can be plotted for the vessel to follow.

Aye AI Captain

MAS has an AI Captain, which uses many forms of data produced by the vessel to assess the mission, its status and route. This data is used to make decisions about the next part of the journey and to make sure its decisions are safe and in-line with collision regulations. Automation software, computer vision and machine learning software are all critical pillars of the AI Captain system.

To follow MAS on its adventures, make sure you visit the official mission portal:

We will also be following the journey of MAS on LinkedIn, so follow us for regular updates.

We are excited to be involved in such a project and are keen to support such ventures, especially research projects.

Contact details

Here are the contact details of the partied involved in this case study:

ENCX contact - 
MarineAI contact -
Mayflower AS contact -

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