The autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) market (without payload) is projected to grow from USD 638 million in 2020 to USD 1,638 million by 2025; it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 20.8% from 2020 to 2025. AUVs are widely used in the oil & gas industry for oil & gas reserve exploration and pipeline monitoring applications. Increase in the capital expenditure in the offshore industry is a key driver fueling the growth of the AUV market. AUVs reduce operational costs by eliminating the requirement of surface vessels for assistance. They also provide longer endurance than human divers. These vehicles can also be efficient in harsh environmental conditions.
Although the AUV market is growing at a significant pace, it is becoming increasingly competitive owing to the emergence of new regional players such as Rovco (UK) and Hydromea SA (Switzerland), as well as major players launching new products in the market and expanding their reach to new regions. Key strategies adopted by these players to enhance their product portfolios, increase their share, and expand their presence in the market mainly include new product launches, partnerships, and collaborations. In September 2019, Bluefin Robotics (US) launched Bluefin 12 AUV. Bluefin 12 has 4,000 cubic centimeter – payload sections, which make it highly modular and adaptable with a wide range of applications. In October 2019, Kongsberg Maritime (Norway) and MAN Energy Solutions (Germany) signed a memorandum of understanding with the purpose of exploring the potential for collaboration on a common data infrastructure for the maritime sector. This collaboration is expected to broaden the value offerings for the vessel operators, improve return on investments in digital solutions, and increase the adoption of secure connectivity among various products offered by Kongsberg Maritime. In January 2020, Fugro (Netherlands) partnered with the Colombian Maritime Authority for an environmental seep hunting study. The study aims at observing shallow seabed sediment coring, geochemical analyses, and seabed heat flow measurements.
Kongsberg Maritime is focusing on deepwater AUVs with depth ratings of more than 1,000 m. For instance, the company sold off its subsidiary Hydroid (US), which offers REMUS AUVs. These AUVs are used for depth ratings of 100 m, 300 m, and 600 m. In 2018, the Americas held a share of ~17% of the overall revenue of the company. It would be beneficial for the company to increase its presence in the Americas since the US holds the largest defense forces in the world. In the current market, the company is well profiled with its AUVs offering all features, but in the future, companies (for instance, Hydromea (US)) with disruptive technologies such as swarm technology can be a threat to Kongsberg Maritime. A few of the subsidiaries of Kongsberg Maritime, which cater to the AUV marketspace, are Kongsberg Evotec AS (Norway), Kongsberg Maritime Controls GmbH (Germany), Kongsberg GeoAcoustics (UK), and Kongsberg Mesotech (Canada).
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Bluefin Robotics aims to differentiate itself by offering highly customizable and modular AUVs, which can cater to a wide number of applications. For instance, the company manufactures Bluefin 12 AUV with a payload section of 4,000-cubic centimeters, making it highly modular. Bluefin Robotics is also differentiating itself by manufacturing lightweight AUVs, which are expected to reduce the energy consumption and, thereby, their operational costs. For instance, it manufactures Bluefin SandShark for depths of up to 200 m that weighs just 5.12 Kg as compared with its competitor, Gavia AUV, which offers AUVs weighing between 50 and 130 Kg. The company has adopted the strategy of outsourcing to acquire the latest technologies. For instance, in 2014, Bluefin Robotics collaborated with Sonardyne International Ltd. (UK) to provide the newest generation of search and classify side-scan sonar with integrated swath bathymetry sonar incorporated into the Bluefin-12 AUV. The company offers R&D, technology integration, full-scale manufacturing, platform training, and operational support to its customers worldwide. It provides customized batteries and AUV accessories, test fixtures, testing tanks, and specialized equipment. Bluefin Robotics offers its products & services to various industries, including defense, commercial, and scientific research. It has expertise in advanced materials, systems, and technologies, and supports their implementation in real-life operating conditions.
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