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News Marine Link: Maritime Autonomy, The Reality

April 30, 2019

In a recent feature story, Marine Link explores the reality of today’s autonomy aboard commercial boats. The editor suggests that owner/operators should consider updating their ships in ways that are increasingly ‘smart,’ with integrated, connected systems that take on additional decision-making processes, while helping to reduce crew size (and cost). He argues that these factors ultimately help to make ship operations safer and more efficient.

As a provider of autonomous marine technology, Sea Machines’ CEO Michael G. Johnson explains how his products add capability to workboats and other commercial vessels, making them more productive, predictable and safer. In the detailed quote below, he describes the value autonomous auto-pilot adds over traditional auto-pilot and the level of autonomy Sea Machines products are equipped with.

“Traditional autopilot is considered simple automation, as it has very few if only one feedback signal to process – the actual course and heading versus set course and heading – and it aims to maintain the set heading without taking anything else into consideration, meaning that the human operator is required to manage perception duties of everything other than the heading. An autonomous auto-pilot is considered ‘more intelligent,’ providing more value to the operation as it takes more information into account, such as position of vessel in relation to charted risks, traffic in the domain and it’s relation to the vessel’s intended course, or the potential need to temporarily slow or alter course in order to successfully complete the mission. The ‘autonomy’ levels refer to the overall intelligence or capability of the system to enable the human operator to extract from direct control. We refer to our current autonomy product, the SM300, as a Level 3 system, meaning there is an active human operator in parts of the perception and emergency control loop.”

Read the full story here.