Introducing the Machine Odyssey, the world’s first 1,000 nm autonomous voyage

Location: The Netherlands

The autonomous revolution has taken the 21st century by storm. From our roads to our skies, and now, the biggest frontier of them all – our seas. Sea Machines continues to prove that the world’s waterways are primed and ready for autonomy, which will retool the world’s fleets to operate more safely and seamlessly, and provide our growing global society with greater access to the oceanic 70 percent of the planet.

September 30, 2021, marks the start of the Machine Odyssey, an epic voyage to circumnavigate Denmark with a commercial vessel commanded by marine officers seated in the United States. Celebrated as the world’s first 1,000 NM autonomous voyage, the trip will begin with Sea Machines’ SM300-equipped, autonomous vessel Nellie Bly departing Hamburg, Germany for a voyage that circumnavigates Denmark and back. Click here to open the project flyer (.PDF).

Along the way, Nellie Bly, a Damen Stan Tug, will make stops at more than a dozen ports, with scheduled events and SM300 demonstrations planned for Hamburg, Copenhagen and Esbjerg. Though fully autonomous, the vessel will be crewed with Sea Machines mariners, who will be supported by a remote team that will command and control the Nellie Bly from a shoreside station in Boston, Mass.

Sea Machines’ autonomous command and control system enables waypoint autonomy, remote command and control from a second location (such as a shore or another vessel), computer vision, obstacle detection and collision avoidance, remote payload control, a sea-keeping mode to ensure a safe and comfortable ride for the company’s mariners, and other capabilities. The advanced technology integrates with on-board equipment, such as radar, GPS, AIS, ENC charts and more, as well as several specialized cameras, to provide full situational awareness at-sea to Sea Machines’ dispersed team. Learn more about the SM300.

“The autonomous revolution is here,” said Sea Machines’ CEO Michael G. Johnson. “Much like Nellie Bly, who in 1889 set a record for expeditious travel 25,000 miles around the world, Sea Machines continues to break boundaries that improve the productivity, capability and safety of vessels at sea. The SM300 and our next-generation products are ushering in a seismic shift in the marine and maritime industries that will tremendously change how our sector operates; the types of jobs available; the realized operational costs, speed and safety; and so much more. Keep your eyes on Sea Machines – the Machine Odyssey is proving how ‘the future’ of ship and vessel technology is available to operators right now.”

The vessel is currently undergoing installation of the SM300 and all associated equipment, a paint job and more to ready her for the trek.

Upon departure on the 30th, Sea Machines’ SM300 technology will stream real-time voyage data and camera footage to this site’s dashboard, which enthusiasts can access 24/7 for live updates. Log on to “ride along” virtually and check the Nellie Bly’s speed, course, transit, surrounding environment and progress as we execute this significant industry first.

To receive Machine Odyssey project updates, submit the form below and be among the first to know the latest information. Contact for questions and comments.

Who is Nellie Bly?

Who is Nellie Bly and why is our Machine Odyssey vessel named for her?

Elizabeth Jane Cochran, also known by her pen name “Nellie Bly,” an American journalist, industrialist, inventor, and charity worker who was widely known for her record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days. The 25,000-mile journey around the world would have been difficult for anyone in her day but was made harder by the fact that Bly was a woman who only spoke English.

Bly was a hero to many not only because of her bravery and unstoppable determination, but also because she broke through boundaries and persevered despite criticism and significant challenges along the way. Following her success, she said, “I believed I could and I would. And I did.”

You can read more about Nellie here.

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