Fundraising campaign launched to pay for crewless yacht to cross the Atlantic in 2020

The Plymouth University based project is hoping to raise £250,000.

The project is hoping to sail the crewless yacht autonomously from Plymouth to Massachusetts in 2020 to mark 400 years since the Mayflower sailed.

Today, a Crowdfunder campaign has been launched, as at least £250,000 is needed to make the scheme a reality.

It would be controlled remotely and solar powered.

Programme manager Paddy Dowsett says the 100ft boat would be something very special:

"We are very much at the forefront of the industry so she will be very unique. There are other smaller autonomous craft out there, but these tend to be four or five metres and conventionally driven, so she will be the first of any real complexity."

Designer Ryan Shuttleworth says people don't need to be concerned about the safety of the technology: ''As you see with self driving cars and the track record they've had, they're proving to be safer than the cars driven by humans and the same goes for ships. One of the things that we'll be building into this is redundancy, so if systems were to fail, there are back up systems.''

Richard Stevens from Plymouth Citybus says they are considering investing: ''This is something that puts Plymouth on the world stage and that sets it apart from some of the other projects I'm involved in. For me, it's that opportunity and it's a showcase. How do we get a President of the United States to Plymouth in 2020? Well, this could just be the catalyst that does that.''

£50 000 has already been pledged by the University Technical college and dozens turned up to the launch at the University's marine site at Artillery Place.

The crowdfunder will be on for six weeks.

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