Huntington Ingalls Industries [HII] on Wednesday said it has made another investment in unmanned systems by partnering and making a strategic equity investment in Sea Machines, which develops software for unmanned surface vehicles (USVs), a deal that gives the shipbuilder immediate access to the advanced technology.
Sea Machines, which is based in Boston, said it raised $15 million in a new financing round that included “significant participation” by HII.
“This investment represents our commitment to advanced innovation and competencies across the unmanned systems market,” Andy Green president of HII’s Technical Solutions segment, said in a statement. “Sea Machines is making significant strides in the USV industry. We want to invest in their growth and continue to form complementary partnerships across this key domain.”
Sea Machines said the investment and partnership with HII will accelerate its deployment of self-piloting technologies for unmanned naval boats and ships.
“This reinforces Sea Machines’ position as the leading developer of autonomous navigation and wireless vessel control systems,” Michael Johnson, CEO of Sea Machines, said in a statement. “Our ability to secure significant financing during a challenging economic environment is an indicator of investors’ confidence in our ability to reshape and retool the marine industries with modern day, advanced technologies.”
Sea Machines’ autonomous navigation technology has been deployed on large commercial cargo vessels, data collecting survey boats, oil spill response craft, search and rescue, patrol and crew transfer vessels. The technology supports remote controlled operations for onshore command of remote vessels, or fully autonomous operations.
Sea Machines said its systems are operating in four of the world’s eight geographic regions.
The investment by HII marks the second this year by the shipbuilder and technical solutions company, which in March spent $350 million to acquire Massachusetts-based Hydroid Inc., a developer and manufacturer of small and medium autonomous unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). That deal complemented HII’s capabilities in large and extra-large UUVs and further positioned the company for growth in the space.
The Navy is Hydroid’s largest customer. The company has the largest installed base of small and medium UUVs.
Green told Defense Daily when the Hydroid deal was first announced in February that HII expects growth in all segments of UUVs.
In the extra-large UUV area, HII is teamed with Boeing [BA] for production on the Navy’s Orca system.
The investment round in Sea Machines was led by the seed venture capital firm Accomplice, and also included participation by Toyota AI Ventures, Brunswick Corp., Geekdom Fund, NextGen Venture Partners, Eniac VC, LaunchCapital and others.