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Smart Tugboat to Journey More Than 1,000 Miles, Autonomously


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The autonomous tugboat Nellie Bly.

The tugboat will employ long-range computer vision and a sensor-to-propeller system that will permit path-planning, obstacle avoidance replanning, vectored nautical chart data, and dynamic domain perception.

Credit: Arie Boer

A 35-foot-long tugboat carrying passengers will embark from Hamburg, Germany, on a 1,000-nautical-mile (1,150-mile) autonomous voyage around Denmark, using long-range computer vision and a sensor-to-propeller system called the SM300.

Autonomous vessel software and systems developer Sea Machines Robotics said this technology enables "path-planning, obstacle avoidance replanning, vectored nautical chart data, and dynamic domain perception."

U.S.-based commanding officers will be able to plan and monitor the voyage remotely, and can reroute the tug if necessary.

Sea Machines' Michael Johnson said, "Just as other land-based industries shift repetitive manual drudgery from human to predictable robotic systems, our autonomous technology elevates humans from controller to commander with most of the direct continuous control effort being managed by technology."

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