Boston-based Sea Machines says it has raised $15 million in funding with significant participation from Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), America’s leading military shipbuilder.
Founded in 2015, Sea Machines has become the United States’ leading company in autonomous ship technology and currently provides commercial, recreational and government customers across the world with autonomy software. Their commercial, off-the-shelf technology can support remote controlled or fully autonomous command of vessels.
Sea Machines said the investment marks one of the largest venture rounds for an advanced technology company serving the marine and maritime industries. In late 2018 the company raised $10 million in a Series A funding round.
Huntington Ingalls described the partnership as a strategic equity investment that will help it expand in the rapidly growing autonomous and unmanned maritime systems industry. Earlier this year HHI added additional unmanned underwater vehicle capabilities through its March acquisition of Hydroid, an autonomous underwater vehicle company.
“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 recent 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.
“This reinforces Sea Machines’ position as the leading developer of autonomous navigation and wireless vessel control systems,” said Michael G. 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.”
Sea Machines’ autonomous systems helps to increase productivity of vessel operations by assuming active domain perception and navigation duties. A Sea Machines system works under the command of a human operator and, by taking on the long duration and often repetitive control duties, it boosts the predictability and precision of operations while lowering the risk of fatigue-related incidents, the company explains. The technology also enables new capabilities on water, such as the onshore command of remote offshore vessels.
“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,” added Sea Machines’ Johnson.