Unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV), also called underwater drones, are vehicles that are able to operate underwater without a human occupant. Unmanned underwater vehicles such as Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) provide an advantage of higher degree of automation without the physical presence of any human to control the operation of the vehicle. Manned underwater vehicles include submarines, submersibles, and atmospheric diving suits (ADS). UUVs also offer significant improvement in data and output quality compared to manned underwater vehicles due to the usage of robotics and automation. Composite materials are lightweight and more durable than metals. Therefore, these are used in manufacturing UUVs.
Increase in application of UUVs in military and security purposes, oil & gas industry, mining, and research activities; and rise in need for exploration and harvesting ocean resources are driving the UUVs market. Changes in the global climate due to the global warming may also create the need for UUVs in the near future. Despite these advantages, UUVs face certain limitations such as limited remote control range for ROVs. AUVs also entail comparatively high maintenance, manufacturing, development, and research costs. This hampers the adoption rate of AUVs in developing countries compared to that in developed countries. Research is being carried out in different parts of the world to further improve the technology that is currently being used in UUVs. For instance, research is being undertaken to implement a regional coupled ocean observation and modeling system in Newfoundland (Canada, North America). This can help predict and manage the ocean as a resource for food production, transportation, and exploration.
Apart from the conventional use of UUVs for minesweeping, mapping of ocean floor, surveillance and other applications, the increase in usage of AUVs and ROVs under the ice in the Arctic for monitoring the influence on climate changes is expected to boost the UUVs market in North America and some parts of Western Europe (Norway, Denmark, France, and Italy).
Based on type, the UUVs market can be segmented into ROV, AUV, and hybrid vehicles. The ROV segment is further classified into free swimming ROV, bottom crawling ROV, and structurally reliant ROV. Free swimming ROVs are primarily used in the oil & gas industry for heavy duty work. Bottom crawling ROVs are majorly employed for trenching and burying underwater cables. Structurally reliant ROVs are essentially used for cleaning and inspecting various types of underwater structures. AUVs include gliders. Based on propeller type, the UUVs market can be segregated into mechanical system, electrical system, and hybrid system.
In terms of application, the UUVs market can be divided into military and security purposes, oil & gas industry, mining, research activities, and predicting and managing ocean ecology and geology. UUVs are used for military and security purposes for surveillance and minesweeping. They are also widely used in the oil & gas and mining industries for heavy duty work. UUVs are employed in managing ocean geology for mapping of ocean floor and temperatures of ocean bed, etc. in order to study the effect of climatic changes on ocean geology and ecology. Usage of UUVs has been increasing in research activities since the last few years due to the rise in need for more advanced automation and robotics in the technology used in UUVs.
Key players operating in the UUVs market are Subsea 7 Inc., Teledyne Technologies Inc, Oceaneering International Services Ltd, Kongsberg Maritime Pvt. Ltd, Deep Ocean Engineering Inc, Bluefin Robotics Corporation, Chesapeake Technology Inc, Exocetus Development LLC, Global Dynamics Inc, Ocean Server Technology Inc, L-3 Klein Associates , Phoenix International Holdings Inc, RJE International Inc, Severn Marine Technologies LLC, Tesla Offshore LLC ,Triton Imaging Inc, and VideoRay LLC.
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