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Seaworthy edge computing: Sea Machines raises $15M for autonomous ship tech

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Seaworthy edge computing: Sea Machines raises $15M for autonomous ship tech

Sea Machines Robotics, a Boston-based developer of autonomous systems for ocean-going vessels and workboats, has closed a new $15 million financing round with significant participation by Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), America’s largest military shipbuilding operation and a provider of professional services.

Toyota AI VenturesBrunswick Corp. (through investment partner TechNexus), Geekdom FundNextGen Venture PartnersEniac VCLaunchCapital and others also participated in this Accomplice-led round. This investment in Sea Machines marks one of the largest venture rounds for an advanced technology company serving the marine and maritime industries.

The strategic investment and associated partnership with HII will accelerate the deployment of self-piloting technologies in the growing market of unmanned naval boats and ships and is a continuation of HII’s expansion in the fast-growing autonomous and unmanned maritime systems industry, according to the announcement.

“This reinforces Sea Machines’ position as the leading developer of autonomous navigation and wireless vessel control systems,” comments Sea Machines CEO Michael G. Johnson. “Our ability to secure significant financing during a challenging economic environment is an indicator of investors’ confidence in our ability to reshape and retool the marine industries with modern-day, advanced technologies. And being selected as technology partner by HII, a leader in every right, further affirms our course in product and market approach.”

“This investment represents our commitment to advanced innovation and competencies across the unmanned systems market,” adds Andy Green, executive vice president and president of technical solutions, HII. “Sea Machines is making significant strides in the unmanned surface vessel (USV) industry. We want to invest in their growth and continue to form complementary partnerships across this key domain.”

Sea Machines’ explains that its autonomous systems increase productivity of vessel operations by assuming active domain perception and navigation duties.  Working under the command of a human operator, a Sea Machines system boosts the predictability and precision of operations while lowering the risk of fatigue-related incidents. The technology also enables new capabilities on water, such as the onshore command of remote offshore vessels.

“We are entering a phase of growth and universal interest like what was witnessed in the self-driving automotive space starting five years ago, but the difference being that marine self-piloting systems are already operationally deployed,” says Johnson. “We expect to see broad adoption of autonomous technology on water ahead of that on roads.”

Sea Machines launched in late 2018 and has since deployed systems on vessels in a variety of sectors from large cargo vessels to U.S.-flag ATBs and data-collecting survey boats, oil-spill response craft, search-and-rescue (SAR), patrol and crew transfer vessels. Sea Machines systems are now operating in four of the world’s eight geographical regions enabled by a dealer-partner program with established marine electronics integrators.

“Five percent of global GDP is directly fueled by the marine economy and the industry is poised for technology innovation,” said Ryan Moore, partner, Accomplice. “Michael and the Sea Machines team have achieved significant progress and this financing underscores our strong position.”

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