The city of Amsterdam envisions a future in which fleets of autonomous boats cruise its many canals to transport goods and people, collect trash, or self-assemble into floating stages and bridges. To further that vision, MIT researchers have given new capabilities to their fleet of robotic boats—which are being developed as part of an ongoing project—that lets them target and clasp onto each other, and keep trying if they fail. Several years ago, MIT and the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS Institute) teamed up on the “ Roboat ” project. The idea is to build a fleet of autonomous robotic boats—rectangular hulls equipped with sensors, thrusters, microcontrollers, GPS modules, cameras, and other hardware—that provides intelligent mobility on water to relieve congestion in the city’s busy streets. About a quarter of Amsterdam’s surface area is water, with 165 canals winding alongside busy city streets. One of project’s objectives […]