Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Market size is projected to register a substantial gains between 2022 and 2028. The expansion of the oil & gas sector and increasing deepwater and ultra-deepwater discoveries will accelerate the market growth.
AUVs are being deployed for offshore field exploration, installation of new infrastructure, and monitoring of subsea pipelines. Another key factor driving AUV demand is the rise in defense expenditure in numerous countries. AUV is a self-propelled vessel that conducts survey missions underwater without any human invention. This equipment is primarily deployed for remote navigation, mapping, and detection for a variety of marine-based applications. It includes marine exploration, collision avoidance, imaging, communication, archaeological research, and many others. High accuracy, reliability, cost efficiency, and the ability to work in hostile conditions will certainly boost AUV adoption across defense, oil & gas, oceanography, scientific research, environmental protection, archaeological exploration, and other sectors.
The oil & gas sector is expected to capture a substantial share of the autonomous underwater vehicle market by the end of 2028. AUVs can be used in applications across all phases of the offshore oilfield life cycle. These include offshore drilling and services such as pipeline inspection, construction, subsea hardware installation, facilities inspection, survey, repair, and maintenance. With surging investments in the oil & gas sector and numerous offshore projects in line, the demand for AUVs will increase considerably in the coming years.
North America AUV market is poised to record commendable growth over 2022-2028 as offshore oil and gas projects in the region become more competitive. Offshore drilling costs have fallen significantly owing to the acceptance of newer technologies, improved efficiencies, and tightening of the supply chain. The regional wind power sector is also being seen as a major area of development, producing new growth opportunities for the local AUV makers.
Leading players operating in the AUV market are Boston Engineering Corporation, Bluefin Robotics, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Kongsberg Gruppen, Teledyne Technologies, International Submarine Engineering (ISE) Ltd., Fugro, Eca Group, Graal, Inc., Oceanserver Technology, Saab Group, and Atlas Elektronik GmbH. These leaders are continuously witnessing new opportunities as defense spending and ocean exploration projects gather pace.
Autonomous underwater vehicle manufacturers are making R&D efforts to bring new innovative AUV models to the market. Citing an instance, in February 2021, Kongsberg Maritime had unveiled HUGIN Endurance, the next generation of its HUGIN AUV. Kongsberg’s latest AUV can deliver an operational duration of up to 15 days, powering extended survey and inspection projects away from the shore.
Industry trends amid the global COVID-19 pandemic have been primarily affected by disruptions in the oil & gas sector. Exploration and production activity levels experienced a considerable drop in 2020 as the pandemic hampered the ability of E&P companies to operate as originally planned for the year. Additionally, supply-demand fluctuations and resulting oil price crash due to the pandemic has forced majority of companies to reduce their 2020 planned expenditure budgets by 10-15% on average, leading to a multi-year low for exploration and production activities.
Travel restrictions and economic slowdown during 2020 have combinedly slowed down seafloor exploration, archaeological research, and numerous other commercial activities in the ocean. However, increasing defense expenditure in several countries has provided the market with some growth opportunities.