L3Harris invests in autonomous sea vehicle maker

The Seasats X3 vehicle.

The Seasats X3 vehicle. Courtesy of Seasats.

Both firms see their partnership as facilitating collaboration and technology sharing.

L3Harris Technologies has invested in a maker of solar-powered autonomous vehicles that operate on the sea surface as part of a push to further accelerate the development of that self-operating capability.

Seasats touts its flagship X3 vehicle as having a low-signature waterline and design that makes the platform difficult to detect by sight and radar. Terms of L3Harris' investment in Seasats announced Wednesday were not disclosed.

X3 is designed to operate for six months in all types of weather conditions. L3Harris sees that vehicle as complimentary to its autonomous surface vehicle offerings of large and medium sizes.

“Our U.S. Navy customers are pursuing innovative solutions to reliably and efficiently patrol the waters from the Red Sea into the Persian Gulf and we understand their urgent need for proliferated maritime ASV architectures,” Daniel Gittsovich, L3Harris vice president of corporate strategy and development, said in a release.

In mid-October, Navy 5th Fleet Commander and Vice Adm. Brad Cooper said the branch wants at least 100 unmanned surface vessels on patrol in the Arabian Peninsula by the summer of 2023.

Seasats was among the group of companies invited to the Navy's "Digital Horizon 2022" exercise earlier this year focused on maritime domain awareness, robotics and artificial intelligence.

L3Harris and Seasats view their partnership as facilitating collaboration and technology sharing with the goal of increasing X3's capability and cut production time by as much as 75 percent, companies said.

“The L3Harris team recognized the value in pairing their payloads and sensors with our versatile platform because together they create an operations-ready solution for a wide range of critical military and commercial uses,” Seasats CEO Mike Flanigan said.

For L3Harris, this investment goes alongside its partnership with the venture investment firm Shield Capital to identify and financially back companies whose technologies have dual use in national security and certain commercial applications.