(BOSTON) — Sea Machines Robotics will embark on a 1,000-nautical-mile autonomous and remotely commanded journey around Denmark later this month. Aptly named The Machine Odyssey, the voyage marks a landfall moment for autonomous transportation and is slated to prove that the world’s waterways are primed and ready for long-range autonomy.
The Machine Odyssey will depart from Hamburg, Germany, on Sept. 30, with full onboard vessel control managed by autonomous technology, while operating under the authority of commanding officers located in the United States. The selected vessel, a modern ubiquitous tug designed and built by Damen Shipyards of the Netherlands, is named Nellie Bly, paying homage to the American journalist, industrialist, inventor and charity worker who was widely known for her bold and record-breaking solo trip around the world in 72 days.
This voyage aims to prove to the world, and specifically to the thousands of global companies that operate the fleets of cargo ships, tugs, ferries and the many other types of commercial workboats, that operators can integrate autonomous technology into their vessel operations for a host of technology-driven benefits, from enhanced safety and reliability to leaps in productivity and new on-water capabilities.
At the helm will be the Sea Machines SM300 autonomy system, which will also utilize the latest in Sea Machines’ long-range computer vision. The SM300 is a comprehensive sensor-to-propeller autonomy system that uses advanced path planning, obstacle avoidance replanning, vectored nautical chart data and dynamic domain perception, all to control a voyage from start to finish. The SM300 provides the remote human commanders with an active chart environment with live augmented overlays showing the mission, state of vessel, situational awareness and environmental data, as well as real-time, vessel-born audio and video from many streaming cameras.
Marine fleets operate in our planet’s most lively and often potent environment where the direct forces on vessels regularly exceed those ever experienced by machines on road, air or space. Safety of ship, crew and cargo is paramount within the Sea Machines’ autonomy stack, with protection behaviors that enable the industry to optimize operations with assurance and an exacting balance of safety, productivity and efficiency.
The project is named The Machine Odyssey, which translates to a long purpose-driven and eventful journey and harks to Homer’s Odyssey, which for millennia has inspired humanity by Ulysses’ and his crew’s courage to undertake a voyage of discovery and adventure.
Throughout the voyage, Nellie Bly will carry two professional mariners and occasional guest passengers and will call on ports along the route to display and demonstrate the technology. Sea Machines will stream the journey live on a website dedicated to The Machine Odyssey for all to have access to 24/7 updates from the sea, the crew, the command center and more.
— Sea Machines Robotics