First Harvest Navigation to launch autonomous hybrid cargo vessel

First Harvest Navigation, a US-based marine transportation company, has agreed a deal with Boston-based Sea Machines Robotics to implement its autonomous command and remote-helm control system on board the electric-powered cargo-carrying catamaran Captain Ben Moore. 

Installation of the technology aboard the vessel is expected to take place in November 2020, and will provide First Harvest Navigation with redundancy and flexibility for crew shifts, with the capability to autonomously command Captain Ben Moore from the company’s land-based control station.

In addition to autonomous control and remote vessel monitoring tools, the Sea Machines system also features obstacle detection and collision avoidance technology to support improved operational safety.

“Part of our transportation goals are to develop autonomous hybrid catamarans to move farm products across Long Island Sound. The Sea Machines SM300 autonomous navigation system will help us achieve many of our goals because it enables shipping movements to be completed very reliably and efficiently in a seamless and sustainable delivery system,” said Bob Kunkel, president, First Harvest Navigation.

“Shifting cargo from streets and highways also alleviates growing congestion, lower emissions and re-establishes our waterways as a viable and cost-efficient alternative to land-based transport.”

Captain Ben Moore will enter service between Norwalk and Huntington, New York, to deliver food and other cargo, replacing truck transportation to East Norwalk’s Harbor Harvest food market. Comparable trucking services require a near nine-hour round trip to deliver within this location, while the remotely operated vessel can complete the terminal-to-terminal voyage in approximately 35 to 45 minutes.

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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