Sea Machines to test autonomous vessel tech for SAR situations

Boston-based Sea Machines Robotics has announced a new partnership with Canadian workboat manufacturer Hike Metal, to integrate Sea Machines’ SM300 autonomous vessel control system aboard commercial vessels tasked with search-and-rescue (SAR) missions.

The goal of the collaboration is to develop and demonstrate the capabilities of autonomous marine technology in increasing the productivity and safety of SAR operations.

Once installed, the SM300 will be used to manage data-driven waypoint following and mission planning, and to support collaborative vessel operations. The unit also provides functionality for remote vessel and payload control, supports minimally manned and unmanned configurations, and offers computer-assisted obstacle avoidance.

Phase I demonstrations will begin this summer, near Hike Metal’s headquarters on Lake Erie, aboard a newbuild Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB). The vessel will be outfitted with twin engines, a remote-control Flir camera system, a heated survivor seating area, remote-control rescue cradles and extended-range fuel reserves.

“Response times are critical in the success of search-and-rescue missions, due to the limited survival time of victims who fall overboard and inherent risks to rescuers,” said Sea Machines’ Don Black, vice president, sales and marketing.

“Our technologies installed aboard responding vessels reduce response times and increase productivity of on-water search operations, improving safety for all involved. We are thrilled to partner with Hike Metal on such an important prototype that will help to modernise marine responses, save lives and recover critical property faster.”