U.S. Coast Guard to Test Autonomous Response Boat

Mike Schuler
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September 29, 2020

The U.S. Coast Guard Research Vessel. Photo courtesy Sea Machines via Metal Shark

The U.S. Coast Guard has selected Louisianna-based shipbuilder Metal Shark and Sea Machines, the automous shipping tech company out of Boston, to supply an autonomous test vessel to the USCG Research and Development Center.

The vessel will be a 29-foot welded-aluminum “Defiant” craft, which already serves as the platform for the U.S. Coast Guard’s Response Boat – Small (RBS-II), but with Sea Machines’ SM300 autonomous-command and remote-helm technology offering a full range of capabilities including transit autonomy, collaborative autonomy, active ride control and collision avoidance, and remote control vessel monitoring. The new vessel was unveiled in 2019 as part of the Metal Shark’s “Sharktech Autonomous Vessels” division.

Located in New London, Connecticut, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Research and Development Center is the service’s primary facility for performing research, development and test evaluation of new technologies that could help the Coast Guard serve its mission.

The tests announced today will take place next month off the coast of Hawaii, during which the RDC team will test and evaluate the Sharktech vessel’s autonomous capabilities for potential in supporting USCG surveillance, interdiction, patrol, and other missions. Afterwards, the new vessel will then be homeported at the RDC’s facility in New London, CT.

“Since the launch of our Sharktech Autonomous Vessels division in 2018 we have been working to position Metal Shark for the autonomy revolution,” said Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard. “We are committed to the advancement of autonomous technology, through our relationships with leading autonomy suppliers as well as through our own R&D, and we are engaged with multiple customers, from the USCG, the Department of Defense, and commercial operators. With this latest delivery, Metal Shark is proud to play a role in the Coast Guard’s autonomous technology R&D efforts.”

“Sea Machines is proud to actively support the Department of Defense across a variety of projects, including this important demonstration being conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard,” said Sea Machines’ Phil Bourque, director, sales. “Our systems are being rapidly adopted by government and commercial operators alike, offering increases in on-water productivity and predictability, while reducing operational risk.”

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