Autonomous vessel technology company Sea Machines Robotics has announced that it has closed a new $15 million financing round, a major vote of confidence for the Boston-based company, which launched its first products in 2018.
The funding round was heavily backed by Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), America’s largest military shipbuilding company, as part of an agreement which will also see the companies work in partnership to accelerate HII’s own business deploying self-piloting technologies on unmanned naval vessels.
“This reinforces Sea Machines’ position as the leading developer of autonomous navigation and wireless vessel control systems,” said Michael Johnson, CEO, Sea Machines.
“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.”
“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. We expect to see broad adoption of autonomous technology on water ahead of that on roads.”
Sea Machines’ autonomous systems can be used to allow remote control of shipboard active domain perception and navigation duties, under the command of a human operator on shore.
To date, the company has already deployed systems on vessels serving a multitude of sectors, including large cargo ships, data-collecting survey boats, oil-spill response craft, and search-and-rescue (SAR), patrol and crew transfer vessels. The company was also selected by Maersk to run a pilot of its AI-based situational awareness technology on board a container ship.
“This investment represents our commitment to advanced innovation and competencies across the unmanned systems market,” said 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.”
The investment round was led by Accomplice with further participation by Toyota AI Ventures, Brunswick Corp. (through investment partner TechNexus), Geekdom Fund, NextGen Venture Partners, Eniac VC, LaunchCapital and others.