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Unmanned ship built by Sea Machines.

Shipbuilding giant Huntington Ingalls Industries recently announced an investment in Boston autonomous technology startup Sea Machines Robotics.

Sea Machines, which produces autonomous software and systems for ships, workboats, and commercial vessels, said its latest fundraising round of $15 million — which included the undisclosed amount invested by HII’s Technical Solutions division — was one of the largest in history for an advanced technology firm in the marine sector.

Virginia-based HII, the nation’s largest military shipbuilder, said the investment would bolster its capabilities in unmanned maritime systems. 

Sea Machines says its systems work under a human operator to take on lengthy and repetitive duties and lower the risk of fatigue-related incidents. Officials noted that SMR’s off-the-shelf technology enables remote-controlled or fully autonomous operation of vessels.

“Sea Machines is making significant strides in the USV industry,” Andy Green, president of the Technical Solutions segment, said in a statement. “We want to invest in their growth and continue to form complementary partnerships across this key domain.”

SMR officials, meanwhile, said the deal with HII would accelerate the deployment of autonomous systems for unmanned naval ships.

“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,” CEO Michael Johnson said in the announcement.

Boston venture capital firm Accomplice led the fundraising round. Funds affiliated with Toyota and Brunswick Corp. also participated.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Huntington Ingalls

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