America’s largest military shipbuilding company is investing in one of the leading developers of autonomous shipping technology. Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) was among the largest investors in the latest $15m financing round for Boston-based Sea Machines Robotics, it was revealed yesterday.
The American move comes as autonomous shipping developments in Europe and Asia are also speeding up.
“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 industry. We want to invest in their growth and continue to form complementary partnerships across this key domain.”
“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,” Michael Johnson, the CEO of Sea Machines, said yesterday.
Since launching its first family of products in late 2018, Sea Machines has deployed systems on vessels serving a multitude of sectors. From large cargo vessels such as the previously disclosed program with Maersk to US-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 and this reach is enabled through a dealer-partner program with established marine electronics integrators.
We expect to see broad adoption of autonomous technology on water ahead of that on roads
This investment round was led by Accomplice with further participation by Toyota AI Ventures, Brunswick Corp, Geekdom Fund, NextGen Venture Partners, Eniac VC, LaunchCapital and others.
“Five percent of global GDP is directly fuelled by the marine economy and the industry is poised for technology innovation,” said Ryan Moore, partner, Accomplice.