Pentagon Advances Experiments with Autonomous Barges to Replenish Aircraft

The Defense Department is set to trial a full-scale autonomous ocean-going replenishment system comprised of technology-driven kits that transform existing barges into self-moving platforms that can land and refuel military aircraft.

They’ll make up a network of smart, floating military gas or resupply stations.

Autonomous marine navigation company Sea Machines is the prime contractor steering the work. On Thursday, the Boston-based business announced the advancement of a multi-year other transaction agreement between it and the Defense Innovation Unit, or DIU, which focuses on rapid prototyping of autonomy projects for the department.

This move to the second phase of this OTA-based work commits up to $3.1 million to the experimentation and deployment of this work. Through it, Defense and industry officials aim to push forward the military’s operational capabilities at sea—with help from autonomous technologies.