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First fleet of autonomous boats to anchor in Amsterdam’s canals

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An aerial view of traditional boats in Amsterdam’s canals during King’s Day (Koningsdag) in 2015.

Nearly a quarter of Amsterdam is covered by a canal system traversed for personal and commercial use in much the same way it was hundreds of years ago. Little surprise then that the next technology push in the pedestrian- and bike-friendly Dutch metropolis ignores autonomous cars for self-driving boats.

The Amsterdam Institute for Metropolitan Solutions (AMS) on Monday announced a new, five-year research initiative to explore the possible functions of floating robot vehicles it’s calling “roboats.” The group claims it will be the globe’s first such small-vessel fleet.

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