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Global Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Market - Technological Advances Drives Growth | Technavio

Technavio’s latest market research report on the global autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) market provides an analysis on the most important trends expected to impact the market outlook from 2017-2021. Technavio defines an emerging trend as a factor that has the potential to significantly impact the market and contribute to its growth or decline.

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Technavio has published a new report on the global autonomous underwater vehicle market from 2017-20 ...

Technavio has published a new report on the global autonomous underwater vehicle market from 2017-2021. (Graphic: Business Wire)

Technavio expects that the global AUV market will post a CAGR of more than 12% during the forecast period. Until recently, AUVs had limited applications, but developments in related technologies have greatly enhanced the application of such platforms.

According to Moutushi Saha, a lead analyst at Technavio for defense research, “Improvements in processing capabilities, propulsion technology, design, and endurance have enabled increased adoption of AUVs for a variety of applications. For instance, the oil and gas industry is deploying AUVs extensively for inspection and light intervention applications.”

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The top three emerging market trends driving the global AUV market according to Technavio research analysts are:

  • Incorporation of new algorithm and metrics
  • Development of bio-inspired solar-powered AUVs
  • Developments in Internet of Underwater Things (IoUT)

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Incorporation of new algorithm and metrics

Energy efficiency is a crucial parameter for AUVs, especially for those used in oceanographic studies. Underwater monitoring applications typically call for greater endurance, which can be facilitated by improving the battery life. Often, AUVs are exposed to disturbances, such as strong water currents, which cause them to lose their battery power while determining alternative trajectories. This, in turn, leads to reduced endurance. Thus, to improve the energy efficiency of AUVs, a new algorithm was proposed by the researchers at Oregon State University in July 2017. The algorithm helps the vehicles to decide if an alternate path is optimum by comparing multiple alternate paths against certain metrics in the event of environmental disturbances. The concept has been tested in a simulated environment.

“It is expected that future research will focus on the planning of informative path and multivehicle situation. The former will involve the collection of information about the marine environment, which the algorithm can use at a later stage for energy-efficient route planning. A multivehicle situation will enable the sharing of information between multiple vehicles to achieve a low shared energy cost. Such developments are expected to affect the market during the forecast period,” says Moutushi.

Development of bio-inspired solar-powered AUVs

The initial solar autonomous underwater vehicle (SAUV) was developed under the RiverNet project initiated by San Diego State University (SDSU). It involved the designing of sensor systems to facilitate long-term monitoring of coastal and harbor regions. The SAUV was used in monitoring contaminant spills and natural events such as earthquakes and volcanoes and supporting reconnaissance operations for defense and homeland security applications. Subsequently, an improved version of the SAUV called the SUAV II was developed, which offers improved endurance by harnessing solar power through a rechargeable lithium hydride battery. Unlike other AUVs, which require frequent removal from the water for battery recharging, SUAV II can stay undersea for 30 days. It is expected that such developments will yield solar-powered AUVs with improved maneuverability.

Developments in Internet of Underwater Things (IoUT)

Internet of Things (IoT) is a concept that encompasses a group of devices that automatically exchange information via the internet. The concept has greatly enhanced the autonomy of devices to communicate with each other. This concept is being further extended to underwater devices such as AUVs. It is called The Internet of Underwater Things (IoUT) and is in its nascent stage. It involves a group of underwater vehicles and sensors communicating with each other and with networks over the surface of water. This will improve the efficiency of tasks such as repair and monitoring and mitigate the need for human intervention.

For instance, Subsea Internet of Things (SIoT) (coined by WFS Technologies, a marine industries technology specialist) is a network of wireless sensors and devices that can provide actionable intelligence. The network components would deploy alternative technologies like very low frequency (VLF) and low frequency (LF) for undersea communication. The SIoT data transmission layer would be through the water or through the water-air boundary. Similar to Bluetooth, WFS has devised a technology called Seatooth, which deploys low frequency radio waves (1 Hz to 2.485 GHz) for subsea communication.

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