Skip to content


The aim of this project is to create a proof of concept that demonstrates a viable water taxi system for the City of Pittsburgh. Many of Pittsburgh’s attractions are located along the three rivers and would be easily accessible by boat. Currently, there are only a few luxury cruise lines that are mainly used for entertainment and tourism, rather than as serious form of transportation. A fleet of autonomous water taxis would reduce commute time for citizens, boost tourism for the city, and grow businesses located along the rivers.

SeaHawk Aluminum Welded Boat

Figure 1: SeaHawk Aluminum Welded Boat

To support this effort, National Robotics Engineering Center, the applied research lab of the Robotics Institute, has recently acquired a 27 ft SeaHawk aluminum welded boat shown in Figure 1. The boat has been converted to a test bed for maritime autonomy research, with drive by wire controls and a defined interface. The boat is outfitted with autonomy sensors, a positioning system, and also has a cabin and heating/air-conditioning to facilitate year-round use for developers onboard.  In this project, we will develop algorithms and tools to enable autonomous navigation of the boat to defined destinations along the river.