Marine Tugboat Industry



Quick Links

  • Remote helm control
  • Remote payload control

Above features, plus:

  • Autonomous command
  • Waypoint following and mission planning
  • Collaborative vessel operations
  • Autonomous grid path execution
  • Minimally manned and unmanned configurations
  • Obstacle detection and avoidance

Product Comparison: SM300 vs. SM200 (.PDF)

Autonomous-Command and Remote-Helm Control Technology
For Tugboats and Related Workboats

Available now, Sea Machines’ vessel intelligence systems install aboard existing or new-build workboats and support vessels to increase their productivity and predictability, while reducing their overall risk and operational costs.

Capabilities & Use Cases

Autonomous Command

Shoreside or nearby operators can execute autonomous missions, with or without crew on board. Lower-cost, minimally manned or unmanned configurations increase safety by eliminating or  reducing the need for humans to be on board and exposed to challenging environments.

Sea Machines automates tedious, redundant and dangerous tasks, allowing an on-board crew to focus on higher-level operations.

Autonomous tugboats can match the speed and course of larger ships, making escorting of vessels carrying high-value cargo more efficient.

Operational incidents can be prevented with obstacle detection and collision avoidance capabilities built on computer vision, radar, AIS and GPS data. Sea Machines helps to reduce operator fatigue, a major casualty factor in marine incidents during nighttime operations, long-distance transfers and challenging sea states.

Autonomous missions can be saved and reused for future efficiency.

Remote Helm Operations

Daughtercraft can be remotely controlled from a mothership or shoreside location, with or without crew on board. Operators can control unmanned daughtercraft 24/7, even in poor sea and weather conditions, and through periods of low light or visibility. Unmanned vessels do not require stop-work periods for shift-changes.

With remote-helm operability, a mariner on board the tugboat can step outside of the wheelhouse to whatever location gives him the best visibility. From there, he can safely and confidently control the vessel and load, as well as any connected payloads or auxiliary equipment, without relying on a remote spotter.

Collaborative Autonomy

Vessels can autonomously collaborate to perform grid patterns and other coordinated tasks.

High-bollard pull tugboats towing out loaded barges can operate in collaborative formations that maintain an exact course and speed from the point of departure to the offshore project site. This helps to eliminate fatigue and increase operational predictability.

Unmanned or minimally manned collaborative autonomous vessels reduce the resources required, helping to reduce operational costs.

Grid Path Autonomy for Repetitive Routes

The majority of operational incidents in the marine industry can be traced to human errors related to fatigue, distraction or boredom. Grid path autonomy eliminates the need for mariners to manually execute tedious paths.

An autonomous vessel executes precision routes, such as those used for ice breaking in harbors, more predictably than a human operator can.

Unmanned, autonomous vessels improve the speed and accuracy of repeating paths.

SM200 product image

Remote Payload Control

An off-site operator can remotely activate and control on-board equipment, such as cameras, marine night vision, marine thermal imaging, sensors and more.

The operator can engage on-board payloads from outside of the wheelhouse to provide greater visibility.

Remote Vessel Monitoring

From a shoreside location or second vessel, Sea Machines enables operators to monitor the operations and progress of working vessels in real time, anywhere there is a network connection.

This “on-watch redundancy” can help to prevent operational incidents and keep crews safer.

Human operators can command and control fleets of unmanned vessels with greater efficiency and reduced operational cost.

Proof of Performance

“In conjunction with Sea Machines, we have developed a turn-key autonomous production model to be kept in our regular stock rotation and available for near-immediate delivery. We’re bringing autonomy to market in a ready form that operators can buy today and run tomorrow.” — Chris Allard, Metal Shark

Sea Machines is now offering government and commercial customers a commercially available 29-foot autonomous vessel, made possible by Metal Shark’s “Sharktech” autonomous division. The system allows for traditionally manned, reduced-crew or unmanned autonomous operations to deliver “human-in-the-loop” navigation. Learn more.

Industry’s First Autonomous Fireboat

During the 2018 Maritime Kulturdage event, in Korsør, Denmark, Sea Machines demonstrated the capabilities of its SM300 product aboard the world’s first autonomous-command, remote-controlled fireboat, owned by TUCO Marine. Read details here.

“This is very important. This is the future of our industry. If our industry is going to be competitive and safer and evolve, it has to look at remote technologies.” — Richard Balzano, Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD)

“The use of autonomy allows us to keep people off the water as much as possible, which is an increase in safety. And the other consideration for the technology is fatigue. There are going to be times when we have to do crew changes; if we can reduce those, that keeps people safer … We think that’s the kind of technology we need to improve our safety.” — John Swift, Marine Spill Response Corp.

Sea Machines demonstrated the capabilities of its SM300 aboard a Kvichak Marco skimmer boat, owned by Marine Spill Response Corp. (MSRC), in Portland, Maine, in August 2018. Conducted primarily for the Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD), the demo proved Sea Machines’ ability to increase the safety, productivity and predictability of response for marine oil-spill operations. Watch a summary of the event above.

Contact us

Contact a member of the Sea Machines team to discuss your specific needs.