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Damen adds Sea Machines' wireless-helm systems to ship build catalogue

A rendering of a "smart bridge," in which a mariner takes a remote supervisor role. Image courtesy of Damen A rendering of a "smart bridge," in which a mariner takes a remote supervisor role. Image courtesy of Damen

Boston-based Sea Machines Robotics has entered a strategic alliance with Damen Shipyards Group of the Netherlands to incorporate the company’s autonomous and wireless-helm systems as standard features in Damen’s global vessel build catalogue. This partnership increases the accessibility of Sea Machines systems in marine and maritime markets and further propels Sea Machines into mainstream use aboard commercial vessels.

Damen engages in modular shipbuilding based on standardised designs. The company’s in-stock hull program has been successful to date as it ensures a short and efficient delivery of proven technology. Now with Sea Machines technology on board, Damen’s customers can take advantage of new operational methodologies that deliver additional efficiencies, increases in productivity and predictability, and opportunities to increase at-sea safety throughout the life of the vessel. 

In addition to installing the autonomous-command and wireless-helm systems, Damen will train users to operate Sea Machines systems via the company’s in-house simulator. Fully integrated with Sea Machines’ technology, the simulator will generate a realistic marine domain in which employees and the company’s clients can learn to use Sea Machines’ intuitive user interface and become familiar with modern autonomous-command capabilities. 

These capabilities include autonomous transit behaviours as well as collaborative autonomy for unmanned daughter craft operations, and pre-configured pattern autonomy for task-based workboat missions. Sea Machines autonomy incorporates obstacle detection and collision avoidance based on COLREGs for dynamic-domain operations, as well as highly valuable remote-command, remote-machinery and payload control, which allows shore-based command of vessels and on-board equipment.  Customers can leverage reduced-crew or unmanned vessel operations which can greatly increase the productivity of persistent workboat operations or remove personnel from hazardous marine work environments. Across all industries, autonomous systems automate manual, repetitive, and tedious tasks, allowing humans to focus on higher-level operations with reduced risk.

“This alliance will play an important role towards the realisation of Damen’s strategy, which is built on the continual development of digitalisation, sustainability and operational excellence of Damen products and services,” said Damen’s Toine Cleophas, manager programs. “The collaboration forms a part of Damen’s R&D programme Smart Ship and will increase customer value by supporting a more digitalised Damen portfolio.” 

“This significant development sends a clear signal to the industry that autonomous marine technology is rapidly gaining adoption and is in-demand among commercial operators,” said Sea Machines’ CEO Michael G. Johnson. “We see a future, where most, if not all, newly constructed vessels will feature autonomous technology as standard. This partnership will accelerate Sea Machines’ position as the ‘go-to’ provider of advanced marine technology and is securing Damen as an innovative industry leader for years to come.”

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