The unmanned boat is already a reality. Tests in the U.S.


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Huntington Ingalls Industries tests autonomous boat

Extreme automation is also proceeding apace in boating. And as there are tests for unmanned cars the U.S. shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries is working on developing technology to run an unmanned ship. The boat chosen for the technology demonstration is the Proteus USV, measuring 27 feet, about 8 meters. This boat was equipped with Sea Machines Robotics’ SM300 autonomy system and completed a demonstration on Friday, May 14 off the coast of Panama City, Florida.

Driverless boat, testing at sea

It is not a technology intended for use in recreation, partly because as the company explains, the SM300 system is designed for ocean-going vessels and enables “phased” autonomy, from remote control to fully autonomous ship operations.

For the demonstration, HII’s Proteus USV was equipped with sensors including GPS, automatic identification system, depth transducer, radar and a camera that allows a 360-degree field of view. The company then also put a separate 51-foot boat on the water during the demonstration. This is to illustrate how the SM300 system is able to avoid obstacles, as well as adherence to international regulation to prevent collisions at sea.

“Our autonomy systems are built around the core principles of capacity, reliability and ease of use, ” said Michael G. Johnson, CEO of Sea Machines. This initial demonstration of the Proteus USV has shown that the SM300 system works as promised, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Huntington Ingalls Industries to support current and future 21st century operational requirements on water.”

The Proteus USV will enable HII to continue to develop autonomy to support the evolving needs of government and commercial customers.

Huntington Ingalls Industries is a minority partner in Sea Machines in July 2020. Sea Machines’ SM300 system can be equipped on ocean-going ships to enable scalable autonomy from remote control to fully autonomous ship operations.


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