Robots of the Sea
Mayflower Autonomous Ship - Daylight sketch | Image credit: Shuttleworth Design
  • Devonport Lecture Theatre, Portland Square Building, Plymouth University

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Over 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface is covered by the oceans, which represent some of the least explored parts of our planet. Yet, we have never needed to know more about our oceans because they are changing and we are struggling to understand what this means for their future. Can robots help us? 

We now have driverless cars and trains to transport us around on land, but what does technology hold for the future of exploration, shipping and transport on the open ocean? 

Please join us for an informative evening discussion about the future for robots in our seas. 


  • 18:00 - Arrival
  • 18:30 - Welcome & Introduction
  • 18:40 - Presentation by Brett Phaneuf, Managing Director of MSubs Ltd
  • 19:00 - Presentation by Jian Wan, Lecturer in Control Systems Engineering, University of Plymouth
  • 19:20 - Presentation by Kerry Howell, Reader in Marine Ecology, University of Plymouth
  • 19:40 - Panel discussion
  • 20:00 - Closing remarks

Our speakers

Mr Brett Phaneuf, Managing Director of MSubs Ltd

University of Plymouth and MSubs are stakeholders in a new venture, The Mayflower Autonomous Ship project. The goal is to send a fully autonomous ship across the Atlantic to mark the 400th anniversary of the original Mayflower sailing. Brett will give us an overview of the current issues and engineering challenges surrounding this ambitious project.

Dr Jian Wan, Lecturer in Control Systems Engineering, University of Plymouth

Jian’s research looks at ways to optimise the systems that are used to control autonomous vehicles on the sea. In this talk he will explore current technologies behind self-sailing ships and give an overview of the technology needed to control these new robots of the sea.  

Dr Kerry Howell, Reader in Marine Ecology, University of Plymouth

Kerry has spent most of her career studying and mapping the deep ocean ecosystems to ensure conservation of these vulnerable habitats. She has used a variety of technologies along the way and will explain how we can use the next generation of marine robots to help us better understand the largest habitat on our planet.

This is a free event hosted by the Marine Institute. However, spaces are limited so booking is essential via the above link.

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