The global AUV fleet is increasing and demand for autonomous underwater vehicles is expected to show steady growth over the period to 2016 according to a new report by Douglas-Westwood. Report author Paul Newman commented, “Many of the factors in the drive to using unmanned military aircraft, the so-called ‘drones’ also apply to both military and civil subsea operations. “When Douglas-Westwood’s first World AUV Market Forecast was launched in 2004, 92 AUVs had been built; the new 4th edition identifies some 560 and forecasts an additional 370 units will be in use by 2016. As AUV technology continues to improve, their use is expected to become more widespread opening up markets in regions where AUVs is currently less commonplace.
The rate of AUV build has been in the order of 50 units per year, but this is expected to double to around 100, with around 930 active in five years’ time.” “North America will continue to dominate the business, driven by expenditure on both military and research AUVs. Latin America will, however, be the fastest growing user region, although from a small base, as a function of significant investment in deepwater oil & gas exploration and production offshore Brazil.”
Douglas-Westwood’s Chairman, John Westwood, concluded, “The importance of the military and research sectors to the AUV business is set to continue. Overall military budget reduction, vessel fleet downsizing and upgrading and a change in typical mission profile is also driving a great deal of demand for these unmanned systems. However, new applications such as site surveys for marine renewable energy projects and life of field inspection systems for the offshore oil & gas sector are expected to emerge from 2012 onwards.”