x
Breaking News
More () »

Self-driving boats being developed in Hampton Roads

Professor Yiannis Papelis' electric catamaran is coming to life inside Old Dominion University's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center.

SUFFOLK, Va. (WVEC) — You might've heard about self-driving cars, but what about self-driving boats?

The technology could be coming sooner than you think!

Professor Yiannis Papelis is behind some ground-breaking research on self-driving boats in Hampton Roads. His electric catamaran is coming to life inside Old Dominion University's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center.

Over two years, Professor Papelis and 40 students developed this $150,000 boat. All day, the group fine-tunes algorithms so the boat can direct itself in open water, and in hopes of winning an international autonomous boat competition.

"The problem is, to build machines that have enough intelligence to follow instructions precisely and understand what the goal is,” said Papelis. "This is literally where the cutting-edge of work is right now.”

Papelis said he understands people might be a little freaked out by the idea. In fact, he said most assume artificial intelligence means technology will “grow up and have a family, and you know it doesn't work that way."

However, students like undergraduate Chris Lovin said, “I can't say enough about how great it is to have an opportunity for this.”

The Navy donated the catamaran to the university with no strings attached. But ODU is doing research on another autonomous Navy boat, which is helping the Navy with its goals too.

"That's when it becomes interesting, because that's when you can start making a difference,” said Papelis.

Now Papelis hopes the university can make Hampton Roads a winner at the competition in December, and even more an innovative community.

"This is something I want the community to be proud of,” said Papelis.

If you want to find out more about the university’s boat and supporting them in the competition email: jasmine.thompson@simisinc.com.

Paid Advertisement

Before You Leave, Check This Out