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Sea Machines and Metal Shark launch autonomous vessel

Boston-based developer of autonomous marine technology, Sea Machines, has partnered with shipbuilder Metal Shark to introduce a new 29-foot autonomous vessel offered through Metal Shark’s “Sharktech” autonomous division.

The new Sharktech 29 Defiant welded-aluminium monohull pilothouse vessel features OEM-integrated Sea Machines technology, offering a full range of advanced capabilities, including active control and collision avoidance. The system allows for traditionally manned, reduced-crew or unmanned autonomous operations to deliver “human-in-the-loop” navigation during both line-of-sight and over-the-horizon operations.

Sea Machines and Metal Shark recently commenced demos using the new platform, and units are now available for acquisition by government and commercial operators under Metal Shark’s stock boat program.  

“We founded Sharktech in 2018 to streamline the customer’s path to autonomy by bridging the gap between the industry’s autonomous software developers and the traditional shipbuilder,” said Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard. “Now, in conjunction with Sea Machines we have developed a turn-key autonomous production model to be kept in our regular stock rotation and available for near-immediate delivery.”

“The decision to partner with Metal Shark is yet another example of Sea Machines’ commitment to delivering advanced technology to the commercial marine market,” said Sea Machines’ founder and CEO Michael G. Johnson. “With our systems installed onboard, commercial operators and government users alike will benefit from increased operational productivity and safety, and will gain capabilities such as force multiplication, collaborative vessel operations and remote payload control – all of which allows operators to do more with less.”

Through Sea Machines’ SM300 autonomous control and monitoring system, the Sharktech 29 Defiant and all onboard systems are commanded via a direct wireless PC-based user interface. An industrialised remote control with joystick provides manual control for situations when autonomy mode is not required, and an available belt-pack remote allows for vessel, systems and payload control within a 1- to 2-kilometer range.

The system frees the operator from the helm to allow manned, technology-assisted control from anywhere onboard the vessel. Alternately, when unmanned operations are required, the vessel and its onboard systems may be monitored and controlled via network connections from a shoreside station or second vessel. Local situational awareness is provided to the remote operator via streaming video, ENC localization, radar, AIS and live environmental and deck machinery condition feeds. The vessel may also be operated autonomously in a traditional (manned) mode.

The system includes advanced mission planning and situational awareness capabilities as well as routine software updates that allow for system enhancements as additional refinements are made.

Sharktech 29 Defiant may also be customised to suit unique mission requirements. However, to reduce lead times, a standardised configuration has been developed for the stock boats program.

“While many people still think of autonomous technology in future terms, it has already arrived,” said Mr Allard. “Together with Sea Machines we’re bringing autonomy to market in a ready form that operators can buy today and run tomorrow.”

View the video here https://vimeo.com/356072305/ae86412fed {/mprestriction}

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    Boston-based Sea Machines Robotics has successfully demonstrated its autonomous systems in action onboard a Kvichak Marco skimmer boat during events held along the Portland harbour this week.

    Sea Machines’ on-water demonstrations took place onboard the world’s first autonomous spill response vessel. The Vigor/Kvichak Marine Industries-built skimmer boat, owned by Marine Spill Response Corp. (MSRC), performed remote autonomous operations in front of a live audience including those from the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD), of which Sea Machines has a cooperative agreement with. Government, naval, international, environmental and industry representatives were also present.

    From a shoreside location at Portland Yacht Services, a Sea Machines operator commanded the SM300-equipped skimmer boat to perform the following capabilities:

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    • Wireless, remote payload control to deploy onboard boom, skimmer belt and other response equipment.

    Sea Machines also discussed how to operate the skimmer in an unmanned autonomous mode, which enables operators to respond to spill events 24/7 depending on recovery conditions, even when crews are restricted. These configurations also reduce or eliminate exposure of crewmembers to challenging sea and weather, toxic fumes and other safety hazards.

    “Our operation of the world’s first autonomous, remote-commanded spill-response vessel is yet another significant industry first for Sea Machines,” said Michael G. Johnson, founder and CEO, Sea Machines. “But even more important is the fact that we’ve proven that our technology can be applied to the marine spill response industry – as well as other marine sectors – to protect the health and lives of mariners responding to spills. We are proud to support MSRC’s mission of response preparedness and to work alongside MARAD for these important demonstrations.”

    “MSRC is excited to work with Sea Machines on this new technology.  The safety of our personnel is the most important consideration in any response. Autonomous technology enhances safe operations,” said John Swift, vice president, MSRC.

    "This is the future of the maritime industry. It’s safer, it’s faster, it’s more cost-effective,” said Richard Balzano, deputy administrator, MARAD. “This technology is here and it will make you a believer. We are here because we want to help the maritime industry evolve. It’s about safety, the environment and reducing risk on the water.”

  • Sea Machines and MARAD to demonstrate autonomous tech capabilities

    Boston-based Sea Machines Robotics has entered into a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) to demonstrate the ability of Sea Machines’ autonomous technology in increasing the safety, response time and productivity of marine oil-spill response operations.

  • Sea Machines and Hike Metal test autonomous system for SAR

    Boston-based Sea Machines Robotics has announced a new partnership with Hike Metal that will integrate Sea Machines’ SM300 autonomous vessel control system onboard commercial vessels tasked with search-and-rescue (SAR) missions.

  • Autonomous vessel tech company raises $10m

    Boston-based autonomous vessel technology company Sea Machines Robotics has closed a $10 million fundraising round, bringing the total funding raised by the company to $12.5 million.

  • Remote controlled workboat operations demonstrated in the US

    Boston-based Sea Machines Robotics has completed six live demonstrations of it’s autonomous-command technology, completing a series of manoeuvres on a remote-commanded workboat from more than 1,500 miles away in the US.

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