Autonomous Spill-Response Vessel Demonstrated

By Mike Ball / 28 Aug 2019
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Autonomous spill response skimmer vessel

Sea Machines Robotics, a developer of autonomous technologies for commercial vessels, has announced that it has successfully demonstrated its autonomous systems in action on board a Kvichak Marco skimmer boat during events held along the Portland harbor. The boat, owned by Marine Spill Response Corp. (MSRC) and equipped with Sea Machines’ SM300 intelligent autonomy system, is the world’s first autonomous spill response vessel, and performed the demonstrations before a live audience of MARAD (U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration), government, naval, international, environmental and industry representatives.

A Sea Machines operator demonstrated the following capabilities of the autonomous system:

  • Remote autonomous control from an onshore location or secondary vessel
  • ENC-based mission planning
  • Autonomous waypoint tracking
  • Autonomous grid line tracking
  • Collaborative autonomy for multi-vessel operations
  • Wireless, remote payload control to deploy on-board boom, skimmer belt and other response equipment

“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 of 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,” commented Richard Balzano, deputy administrator, MARAD. “We are here because we want to help the maritime industry evolve. It’s about safety, the environment and reducing risk on the water.”

Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact