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Huntington Ingalls Buys Vessel Autonomy Division of SIS

navy autonomous test craft
Image courtesy SIS

By The Maritime Executive 01-04-2021 04:58:00

Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) has acquired another vessel autonomy business with the purchase of the unmanned systems division of Spatial Integrated Systems (SIS), a provider of USV perception and swarming technology to the U.S. Navy. 

HII says that SIS' technologies - including swarming behavior, sensor fusion, perception and autonomy - have been tested for more than 6,000 hours on 23 different vessel types. Its systems are already in use in the U.S. military for coordinating and controlling multiple unmanned vehicles, with mission sets like reconnaissance, harbor patrol, high value unit escort, payload delivery, mine clearance and supply transport.

In a development with relevance for HII, SIS' team recently worked with a UK-based firm to test an autonomy system aboard a large surface vessel for U.S. Navy trials - putting it near the center of the future plans of HII's primary customer. 

“SIS is a leader in autonomous technology, and this acquisition adds significant breadth to our unmanned systems solutions,” said Duane Fotheringham, president of HII Technical Solutions’ Unmanned Systems division. “This technology and the talented team provide unmatched capabilities in multi-domain collaborative autonomy and perception."

Fotheringham's division has gone through a rapid period of growth as HII - the largest American defense shipbuilder - adapts to meet the Navy's burgeoning interest in unmanned surface vessels and submarines. The conglomerate has recently acquired unmanned submersible company Hydroid; formed an alliance with Kongsberg Maritime; purchased an equity stake in autonomy startup Sea Machines; and broken ground on a new Unmanned Systems Center of Excellence in Hampton Roads.

The transaction will see about 50 employees from SIS join HII's Technical Solutions division. Sam Lewis, the president and chief operating officer of SIS, will lead the company’s USV efforts. The cost of the transaction was not disclosed.