An autonomous tugboat is set to embark on a multi-week 1,000 nautical mile remotely commanded commercial voyage around the Danish coast, a project being undertaken by Sea Machines Robotics to demonstrate the readiness of these technologies for deployment on the world’s waterways.
The Machine Odyssey will depart from Hamburg, Germany on October 1st, from where it will circumnavigate Denmark with full onboard vessel control managed by autonomous technology. The tugboat will be operating under the authority of commanding officers located in the United States, with human passengers on board during the autonomous journey, Sea Machines says.
The tug will be installed with Sea Machines’ SM300 autonomy system and long-range computer vision technologies, using path-planning, obstacle avoidance replanning, vectored nautical chart data and dynamic domain perception to control a voyage from start to finish.
Remote human commanders are provided with an active chart environment with live augmented overlays showing the mission, state of vessel, situational awareness and environmental data, and real-time vessel audio and video from streaming cameras.
“From time immemorial the oceans have driven the best of human innovation, designed and built by architects and engineers, and deployed by a select and special group of people, mariners, that much of society relies on today and evermore in the future for the supply of food, power, water, goods and transport. And as a technology space leader, Sea Machines takes it as our duty to embark into new waters, motor through any and all fog of uncertainty, and prove the value within our planned technology course,” said Michael Johnson, CEO of Sea Machines.
“Just as other land-based industries shift repetitive manual drudgery from human to predictable robotic systems, our autonomous technology elevates humans from controller to commander with most of the direct continuous control effort being managed by technology.”
“This recast human-technology relationship is the basis of a new era of at-sea operations and will give on-water industries the tools and capability to be much more competitive, end the erosion of high-value cargo to air and road, put more vessels on water, operate in better harmony with the natural ocean environment, and deliver new products and services.”
Sea Machines will stream the autonomous journey live on a dedicated website with updates from the sea, the crew, and the command centre.