As part of its objective to create a “driverless” boat, akin to the driverless cars that we are seeing out on the road, Buffalo Automation has successfully launched an AI-navigated water taxi. The historic launch of the solar powered taxi, called Greycraft – currently in its “1.0” state – was held in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Greycraft is an alternative form of transportation that will one day carry a multitude of passengers from port to port, while autonomously navigating busy waterway channels. This will be done by using Buffalo Automation’s resourceful Mayday app, which will allow travelers to “hail” a water taxi, similar to how people interact with Lyft or Uber.
Buffalo Automation has made the possibility of using autonomous water taxis as a safe, reliable, environmentally friendly means of transport, a reality.
Another first for Buffalo technology feats, the Greycraft vessel is touted as “the only solar powered, autonomous vessel currently capable of carrying passengers and traversing busy waterways.” It is also deemed safe, reliable, and environmentally friendly. The automation allows for groupings of passengers such as ‘family units’ to travel safely when there is a pandemic afoot since there is no captain or crew to worry about. Ultimately, the company points out that the future of automated boats brings “tech to the masses, democratizing boating regardless of a person’s level of boating expertise.”
“From its inception, Buffalo Automation’s goals have been to improve safety and decarbonize the world’s maritime industry through the use of modern technology,” explains CEO and Co-Founder Thiru Vikram. “This test run was made possible because of like-minded local leaders who are open to exploring alternative transport models. Our demo run solidifies our commitment to providing people with a safe, clean energy means of transportation that protects their numerous blueways and natural resources. Running the demo of Greycraft on the Tennessee river is an exciting undertaking.”
“The Greycraft test run is exciting and historic,” Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon. “We applaud companies exploring and investing in green technologies. As we move forward together, we need everyone’s contributions – government, businesses, transit systems and individuals – to reduce greenhouse emissions. Recreation and transportation on blueways are a significant part of life here in Tennessee. A safer, solar-powered, autonomous water taxi service is a great example of a big idea and a new business model with potential to become a part of the long-term environmental solution across the nation.”
“The modularly designed Greycrafts can be collapsed and shipped as interchangeable standardized parts each measuring less than 65 inches, fitting into most pickups easily, and can be re-assembled manually at a dock within 2 hours, removing the need for a trailer,” notes Vikram, “Greycraft’s modular design also allows vessel size to be customized easily on the field by users. Since the lack of charging infrastructure is often a significant obstacle for the widespread adoption of electric vehicles, Greycraft is designed to be powered primarily by its solar panels with battery capacity reserved only for low-light operation or emergencies. They are also designed to remain operating on the water for several years after assembly and deployment with no maintenance, since they require neither fuel nor manpower.”
The historic launch of the solar powered aquatic taxi, called Greycraft, is the first of its kind, and intends to revolutionize the way people travel upon the water.
Hopefully, over the winter, a Buffalo waterfront entity will enter into talks with Buffalo Automation. After all, it would be great to see one of the ‘Born in Buffalo’ crafts proudly navigating our own waterways in the near future. And now that we have a successful water taxi of our own, the next logical step would be to incorporate a Greycraft model into the growing fleet, pandemic or not.
To learn more about the technology, and the formations of the Buffalo-based company, click here.
Photos: Water taxi in its current 1.0 state