You don’t go to Amsterdam to check out the cars, you go there to check out the boats. The city has more than a hundred kilometers of canals that wind their way throughout what is often referred to as the party capital of the world. For this very reason, it wouldn’t really make sense for the city to test self-driving cars but it makes absolute sense for it to test self-driving boats, and that’s precisely what’s going to happen in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Institute for Metropolitan Solutions today confirmed a new five-year research program through which it’s going to explore the possible functions of self-driving boats.

The program – called Roboat – is being handled by researchers from the Delft University of Technology and Wageningen University and Research in The Netherlands as well as researchers from MIT. They have received $25 million in funding for this project and are now planning to have the first prototype self-driving boat by next year.

“Imagine a fleet of autonomous boats for the transportation of goods and people,” said Carlo Ratti of MIT, which is a principal investigator in this program, adding that this will also enable “dynamic and temporary floating infrastructure like on-demand bridges and stages, that can be assembled or disassembled in a matter of hours.”

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