The US Coast Guard (USCG) will test and evaluate capabilities of autonomous vessel technology for a range of security activities
USCG has ordered a 9-m aluminium-hulled vessel with autonomous navigation and control technology for its Research and Development Center (RDC).
Louisiana-based shipbuilder Metal Shark Boats will supply a new Sharktech 29 Defiant vessel with Sea Machines Robotics’ equipment on board.
USCG will trial autonomous and remote control technology on this vessel in demonstrations off the coast of Hawaii in October.
Its RDC will evaluate the Sharktech vessel’s autonomous capabilities for supporting USCG surveillance, interdiction, patrol and other missions.
This vessel will have Sea Machines’s SM300 autonomous-command and remote-helm control module in the pilothouse.
SM300 provides advanced capabilities for vessel missions, including transit autonomy, collaborative autonomy, collision avoidance and remote vessel monitoring.
After the Hawaii demonstrations, this autonomous vessel will be returned to the RDC’s New London, Connecticut, facility, where it will be used in additional testing and investigations, said USCG assistant demonstration director Derek Meier.
“As the premier USCG facility performing research, development, test and evaluation in support of the service’s major missions, the RDC team is eager to observe Sea Machines’ system in action,” he said.
“The exercises will ultimately help us determine how, when, and if this innovative technology can be used to support personnel who are executing a variety of coastguard activities.”
USCG’s contract for a Sharktech vessel with SM300 is another milestone in Metal Shark’s positioning in the “autonomy revolution” said Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard.
Metal Shark has worked with Sea Machines since 2019 to provide Sharktech 29 Defiant vessels with autonomous technology on board, available to commercial and defence markets, including engagement with the US Department of Defense.
Sea Machines sales director Phil Bourque said the USCG order expands its support to the US Department of Homeland Security.
“Our systems are being rapidly adopted by government and commercial operators alike, offering increases in on-water productivity and predictability, while reducing operational risk,” said Mr Bourque.
In July, Sea Machines partnered with Huntington Ingalls Industries to accelerate the deployment of self-piloting technologies in the rising market of unmanned naval boats and ships.