US Department of Defense taps Sea Machines for autonomous VTOL replenishment vessels
Sea Machines Robotics has been awarded a multi-year other transaction (OT) agreement by the US Department of Defense (DOD) with the primary purpose of modifying commercial ocean-service barges as autonomous replenishment vessels for vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft.
The agreement awarded by the DOD through its Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) calls for Sea Machines to engineer, build, and demonstrate ready-to-deploy system kits that would enable autonomous, self-propelled operation of opportunistically available barges as mobile forward arming and refueling point (FARP) units for use by military aircraft.
The kits will include Sea Machines’ proprietary autonomous command and control systems, barge propulsion, sensing, positioning, and communications and refueling equipment, as well as items required for global deployment. Each modular kit will meet US Navy criteria and will be in compliance with classifications and regulations from the DOD’s aviation bodies.
The contract includes a concept demonstration phase, with an option for following phases to deploy operational kits.
The live concept demonstration is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2020, in Washington state, for which Sea Machines has teamed with Seattle-based transportation company Foss Maritime.
Foss will provide naval architecture, support engineering, and operations management to outfit a remotely commanded deck barge to land helicopters and host a scaled fueling station for aircraft, surface vessels, and shore replenishment.
Using the Sea Machines autonomous command and control system, shoreside operators will have remote situational awareness and will be able to demonstrate the capabilities of remote command and control of the vessel, its operating systems, and its flight deck.
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