Autonomous electric vessels called roboats are tested on the Amsterdam’s waterways

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Amsterdam’s more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) of waterways are to start hosting prototypes of futuristic boats — small, fully-autonomous electric vessels — to carry out tasks including transporting passengers and picking up garbage. They have to learn to maneuver through traffic in Amsterdam’s canals, which are full of private boats and canal cruises for tourists, being steered remotely by a computer, which processes data from cameras and sensors that scan the areas around the vessel, detecting stationary and moving objects. Their developers also have to solve legislative hurdles and privacy concerns because the cameras and scanners. The Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are collaborating on the Roboat project. It is the result of innovative large-scale research that explores and tests the rich possibilities for autonomous systems on water, using Laser Image Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data for localization and mapping.

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The program is focusing on moving people and goods. The research within the program is conducted by MIT, Delft University of Technology and Wageningen University and Research. The program has a budget of €25 million. The novel robotic boat is easy to manufacture, highly maneuverable, and capable of accurate trajectory tracking in both indoor and outdoor environments. Roboats could also clear the canals from waste.