The global underwater robotics market is poised for substantial growth over the forecast period. Increasing applications across various industrial sectors and continuous technological advancements are expected to drive market growth. Continuous oceanic surveillance is one of the key applications for such robots. In addition, these robots find numerous uses in the fields of maritime security, marine archaeology, and marine biology. These are exclusively designed for harsh work environments with minimum approachability, where the security of divers cannot be compromised.
Certain special deep water robots work in deep waters that are highly restrictive and hazardous spaces within ship wrecks and sea chests, and the rigors of a submarine launch. Such undersea robotic vehicles play a major role in the growth of the offshore industry sector as well. The increasing need for undersea mining has become an important factor contributing to market growth. In addition, the development of smart underwater robots has further increased the scope for such robotic devices. Additionally, these robots are equipped with multi-DOF manipulators and end effectors on various types of arms that enable them to perform distinct underwater tasks such as rescue, repair, construction, and salvage.
Scientists and researchers from various fields have been exploring deep oceans to gain more knowledge about their nature, creatures, composition, and physics. The market is growing at a steady rate owing to the increased interest shown by scientific research institutions and several public and private sector companies. Such knowledge is useful for sea explorations and ocean mapping.
Growing deployment for ocean surveillance in the field of scientific research has forced several market vendors and research institutions to develop long-lasting underwater robotics for uninterrupted surveillance. These robots have the ability to refuel themselves and are powered by natural, renewable, and ocean thermal energy. Similar to subsea oil and gas extractions, deep sea mining is expected to change the picture of the global mining industry. Application segments include defense & security, surface & underwater examination, commercial & scientific research, and leisure activities. Broadly, these are classified as autonomous or remotely operated. These robots comprise variants of Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV), Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV), and Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUV).
Globally, North America is anticipated to be the largest user for such robotic devices. Defense activities from countries such as the U.S. and Canada have led to an increased demand for such robots. Improved production techniques and technological proliferation in robotics industry in North America has spurred growth in the region. Countries such as Japan, South Korea, and China from Asia Pacific are highly advanced in the field of robotics and automation. Investments in robotically operated marine vehicles have escalated in Australian. These factors are perceived to spur the regional industry augmentation.
European countries such as the UK and Germany are deemed to be early technology adopters. A significant rise in research and exploration activities in the European region is expected to drive market demand. However, communication inadequacies below the surface could pose a challenge to the advancement of this market. The presence of water and its high pressure levels slow down the signal transmission speed and create background noises and echoes. Moreover, there have been reports about such autonomous robots and submarines that travel to a destination with the help of GPS navigation used for illegal drug trafficking thus raising alarming issues regarding its use.
Underwater robotics have been extensively used for naval and defense operations. The U.S. navy has deployed Blackghost AUV robot by Cambridge AUVs, which is exclusively designed to undertake an assault course autonomously without outside control. Norwegian minehunter KNM Hinnøy has introduced Pluto plus AUV for submerged mine identification and destruction. Bluefin Robotics has its flagship product Bluefin -12 AUV with an inbuilt Buried Object Scanning Sonar (BOSS) and an integrated in two wings design for special rescue and mining operations.
Major industry players include Atlas Maridan, Bluefin Robotics Corp, Cambridge AUV, Deep Ocean Engineering, International Submarine Engineering, MacArtney Group, OpenROV, Phoenix International, Schilling Robotics, Soil Machine Dynamics, and Oceaneering International Inc.
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