Amsterdam didn't have to look very far when searching for a way to ease traffic on its congested streets. The Dutch capital's canals were used for transport long before cars and trucks powered by polluting internal combustion engines began clogging its narrow roads.
The city's more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) of waterways are to start hosting prototypes of futuristic boats, small, fully-autonomous electric vessels, to carry out tasks including transporting passengers and picking up garbage.
The Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are collaborating on the Roboat project that aims to develop new ways of navigating the world's waterways without a human hand at the wheel.
The Roboats have orange propellers and four thrusters that are powered by an electric battery. They can go about 4 mph (6 kph) and can run for 12-24 hours, depending on the battery type and cargo load.
They are steered remotely by a computer, which processes data from cameras and sensors that scan the areas around the vessel, detecting stationary and moving objects. The vessels are modular so they can be easily adapted for different purposes, carrying cargo or workers. Developers say they still need two-to-four years to perfect the self-steering technology.