Could traffic reducing autonomous boats be coming to Amsterdam?
The short answer is yes. Amsterdam is developing autonomous boats to reduce traffic in the city and take on a whole range of other tasks. The Roboat project is a collaboration between researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS).
Utilising Amsterdam's waterways
In Amsterdam, 25 percent of the city surface is actually water. Introducing autonomous vessels could, therefore, be a great way to utilise this space. Roboat have already tested miniature versions of such vessels and the next stage in development is to test larger boats.
Autonomous vehicles are driverless and use a varying range of sensors which scan surroundings and feed this information to artificial intelligence systems which process it and inform the operating system with instructions for steering the boat. An obvious use of these boats is to transport people; however, this is only one of the many ways in which these boats could be used
Innovative Roboat uses in the Dutch capital
Roboat in Amsterdam is currently in its second year of research in the five-year, 25 million euro project. The project doesn’t just see scope for transporting people and alleviating the busyness in the city in that way, but also in transporting goods, garbage and measuring water quality and pollution levels.
In the case of collecting garbage, for example, Roboats with floating containers could be deployed in the canals to serve as an alternative for the current rubbish collection system, which sees residents in this area of Amsterdam leave their garbage bags on the curbs. Once the container is full, the Roboat could then take it to a waste processing centre.
Unlike the rest of Amsterdam, the quays of the canals in the centre are too fragile for underground containers to be placed within them. However, with one Roboat and floating container, the waste of about 1.100 households could be collected, preventing rubbish from taking up space on the streets and consequently reducing the attraction of rodents.
Using a Roboat for rubbish collection would also mean that collection vehicles would no longer be needed on the crowded roads of the city centre. The Roboat could also be used in other ways, for example, to provide “on-demand” infrastructure, such as bridges and platforms.
Images and video source: MIT and AMS Institute