Sea Machines Robotics bringing autonomous capabilities to commercial vessels



Sea Machines Robotics has partnered with workboats manufacturer Hike Metal to integrate its SM300 autonomous vessel control system aboard commercial vessels used for search-and-rescue (SAR) missions.

According to Sea Machines, the collaboration will “help develop and demonstrate the capabilities of autonomous marine technology for the purposes of increasing the productivity and safety of SAR operations.”

“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,” explains 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 modernize marine responses, save lives and recover critical property faster.”

Equipped with the SM300, Hike Metal’s vessels will have several new capabilities, including autonomous SAR capability, remote vessel and payload control, and minimally manned and unmanned configurations.

Sea Machines notes that it also enables minimally manned and unmanned autonomous operations, allowing operators to respond to rescue events anytime of the day or night, even when crews are unavailable or restricted.

“We have seen the need to increase response capabilities and also reduce the risk to first responders,” says Hike Metal’s Roger Stanton, senior project manager.

“We feel this technology and platform will be a valuable tool to all Coast Guard Societies around the world.”

Phase I demonstrations will begin this summer on Lake Erie—near Hike Metal’s headquarters—aboard a new-build, 27-foot Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB). The vessel will be equipped with a variety of technologies and hardware, including twin 200-HP engines, a remote-control Flir camera system, a heated survivor seating area, remote-control rescue cradles and extended-range fuel reserves.