WHAT IS IT?
Is this a doggie dance on
deck? Turn the page to learn
about an interesting exhibit
for every pet-loving boater.
Macomb County; and St. Clair Boat
Harbor, in St. Clair County.
Slip reservations may be made up to
six months in advance for a stay of one to
14 days at any harbor on the reservation
system by visiting midreservations.
com or calling (800) 44-PARKS. Visit
michigan.gov/boating for more info on
boating in Michigan.
— DAN ARMITAGE
Boaters visiting Straits State Harbor (
pictured) or four other Michigan state harbors
this season may reserve specific slips as
part of a pilot program offered by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Are robotic boats cruising your way?
We’re used to hearing the drone of a boat’s engine, but boats that are actu- ally drones are a lot less familiar. Autonomous robotic boats are, however, part of our future. In fact, they’re already in testing today. Last year, the U.S. Navy christened Sea Hunter, an unmanned 132-
foot trimaran designed to detect and track submarines for up to 90 days. And a
private outfit in California’s Silicon Valley named Liquid Robotics has created a test
model named Sea Charger, which successfully cruised from California to Hawaii last
summer with no human input. It then cruised from California to New Zealand to
become the first unmanned vessel to cross an ocean on solar power alone.
But the most ambitious project to date may be the Roboat fleet of autonomous
boats being tested in the Netherlands. Roboat is a research program centered at
the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced
Metropolitan Solutions, with participation from MIT and the city of Boston
as well as from the Netherlands research
schools Delft University of Technology
and Wageningen University and
Research. With an extensive canal system and 25 percent of its surface covered
by water, Amsterdam is the ideal place
for developing and testing the Roboat.
The rectangular pontoon-boat-like
Roboats can transport freight and people, collect waste, and act as citywide water and/
or air monitors all at the same time. They can link together and, according to MIT
professor Carlo Ratti, form “temporary floating infrastructure, like on-demand bridges
and stages, that can be assembled or disassembled in a matter of hours.”
The project is expected to last five years and include the involvement of 12 groups
of researchers. As is the case with self-driving cars, researchers hope additional
advantages of going robotic will include fewer collisions and navigational errors,
improved efficiencies in moving freight, and less congestion. — LENNY RUDOW