Sea Machines Robotics’ autonomous command and control technology for unmanned surface vessels (USVs) has been selected by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) for incorporation into a prototype system that will enable commercial ocean-service barges to be converted into autonomous Forward Arming and Refueling Point (FARP) units for an Amphibious Maritime Projection Platform (AMPP).
Sea Machines will engineer, build and demonstrate ready-to-deploy system kits based on the company’s SM300 autonomous command and control systems, with the addition of barge propulsion, sensing, positioning, communications and refueling equipment, as well as items required for global deployment. These kits, which will be designed to meet U.S. Navy criteria as well as classifications and regulations from the DOD’s aviation bodies, will provide autonomous, self-propelled operation of opportunistically available barges, allowing military VTOL aircraft to land and refuel.
For the upcoming demonstration, Sea Machines has teamed with maritime transportation and logistics provider Foss Maritime, who will provide naval architecture, support engineering and operations management to outfit a remotely commanded deck barge to land helicopters and host a scaled fueling station for aircraft, surface vessels and shore replenishment. The SM300 system will provide shoreside operators with remote situational awareness and will be able to demonstrate the capabilities of remote command and control of the vessel, her operating systems and flight deck.
Sea Machines is also working with other companies to ensure a successful demonstration, including Huntington Ingalls, America’s largest military shipbuilding company, and Bell Flight, a producer of commercial and military, vertical-lift aircraft.
Phil Bourque, director of sales at Sea Machines, commented: “The AMPP autonomous replenishment systems will solve critical logistics challenges of expeditionary missions. We are pleased to enable this innovative capability, which will increase the effectiveness and flexibility for the U.S. military. With Sea Machines systems already working off the waters of four continents, this project is well suited for us and one that we look forward to delivering on for the U.S. Government.”
Will Roberts, chief operating officer at Foss, stated: “Foss is excited about this new opportunity with Sea Machines. This contract has led to discussions with Sea Machines in a number of other areas where their expertise can help Foss, including bringing more technology to our tug fleet. What they are doing in automation is very interesting and that technology could help our mariners and our vessels’ safety.”