Autonomous tech added as standard option on Damen Shipyards’ newbuilds

Damen Shipyards Group in the Netherlands has entered into a strategic alliance with US company Sea Machines Robotics, to incorporate autonomous and wireless-helm systems as standard options for new vessel builds.

Damen’s shipbuilding process incorporates a modular methodology based on standardised designs and an in-stock hull programme, allowing for delivery times to be shortened. Adding Sea Machines’ technology to the catalogue of available options will allow new vessel owners to have the autonomous systems included on board from delivery. 

In addition to installing the autonomous-command and wireless-helm systems, Damen says it will offer training on operation of the Sea Machines technology via the company’s in-house simulator, allowing users to learn the interface and become familiar with its autonomous-command capabilities. 

These capabilities include autonomous transit functionality as well as collaborative autonomy for unmanned daughter craft operations, and pre-configured pattern autonomy for task-based workboat missions. The systems incorporate obstacle detection and collision avoidance based on COLREGs, as well as remote-command, remote-machinery and payload control, which allows shore-based command of vessels and onboard equipment.

“This alliance will play an important role towards the realisation of Damen’s strategy, which is built on the continual development of digitalisation, sustainability and operational excellence of Damen products and services,” said Toine Cleophas, Damen’s Manager of Programs.

“The collaboration forms a part of Damen’s R&D programme Smart Ship and will increase customer value by supporting a more digitalised Damen portfolio.” 

Damen Shipyards builds around 175 vessels a year on average, keeping more than 150 hulls in stock. It plans to initially offer Sea Machines systems on workboats, patrol vessels, tugboats, crew transfer vessels, and ferries.

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Rob O'Dwyer

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