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The global Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) market size was valued at USD 2.05 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow from USD 2.13 billion in 2023 to USD 2.89 billion by 2030, exhibiting a CAGR of 4.4% during the forecast period.
Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) is a type of waterborne vessel that operates without the need for human on-board operators. It can be operated remotely by an operator, or can be programmed to run on its own. Most USVs are powered by fast-recharging lithium-ion battery packs or solar energy, and are primarily used for ocean research and maritime applications.
USVs offer a wide range of benefits, ranging from commercial and research applications to defense applications, to search and rescue applications, and much more. There is a steady increase in the adoption of USVs across various industries, including aquaculture. It has the potential to be the perfect vehicle for disaster management.
Unmanned Surface Vehicle Demand Has Risen Globally due to Russia-Ukraine War
Russia’s conflict with Ukraine has largely been a land-based and air-based campaign, which has made the use of armed drones and high-tech missiles a normal part of modern warfare, propelling the Unmanned Surface Vehicle market growth The Black Sea was especially important in the maritime region.
The Russian Navy’s overwhelming naval power is large due to Russia’s failure to deter naval espionage against Ukraine, as well as Russia’s political maneuvering around the strategic chokepoint of Turkey’s Bosphorus. Another “unexploited” arsenal is hidden within the Black Sea in the form of Russian subs. These subs, which have both operational and non-operational roles, are seen as critical against Ukrainian forces and NATO assets.
Germany might need to broaden its equipment mix by looking for nontraditional military suppliers. The Israeli defense industry, for example, has already leased Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to Germany and could potentially benefit by becoming a preferred supplier for Germany. The Nordic region is expected to see another characteristic change. Norway, which had previously opted out of joint procurement, might now rejoin and enter into a joint procurement to improve defense equipment interoperability against its common adversary.
Rising Adoption of Small Sized USVs for Non-Lethal Missions with AI Capabilities
Most USVs are less than 14m in length, so they have low radar, acoustic, infrared, and magnetic signatures. With the increasing use of stealth technology, USVs will become even less visible. Today, most USVs are dedicated to core non-destructive missions such as surveys, mine countermeasures, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. In particular, Very Small USVs (VSUSVs), Small USVs (SUSVs), and gliders are best suited to a single type mission such as hydrographic surveying and ISR. Very few USVs have weapon systems, and very few are currently operated by operators. This is due to legal issues or lack of mature and tested autonomous systems.
As the amount of sensor data collected by unmanned vehicles increases, there will be a growing need for advanced analysis of this data. To effectively process sensor data and generate meaningful insights, unmanned vehicle solutions will need to leverage the most up-to-date data analytics technologies available. AI also allows for continuous learning for unmanned vehicles based on machine learning techniques, allowing for complex capabilities, such as autonomous navigation, as well as obstacle detection and avoidance, based on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGs).
For instance, in February 2023, the U.S. Navy and UAE Navy maritime forces completed a week-long joint unmanned systems and artificial intelligence integration exercise in the Arabian Gulf. A total of five UAE Navy unmanned surface vehicles participated in the joint exercise.
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Increased Demand and Need for Cleaning Oceans by Unmanned Vehicle Drive the Market Growth
Contamination of oceans has been continuously growing over the years. The United Nations estimates that 95% of global plastic pollution enters the oceans through 10 major rivers. Eight of these rivers are located in Asia. By 2040, the amount of plastic trash entering marine environments is projected to almost triple, adding 23-37 million metric tons to the oceans annually, which is roughly 50 kg of plastic trash per meter of coastline worldwide.
About 75% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, 97.5% of which is the ocean, and the remaining 2.5% is fresh water. With an ever-growing population, fresh water is increasingly needed for drinking and other uses. On the other hand, industrialization and globalization have resulted in an increase in water pollution. Large amounts of plastic waste are discharged into the ocean, contaminating the water. Oil and gas exploration and transport have also resulted in several oil spills that have damaged aquatic life and water quality. Chemical contamination is a concern for health, environment, and economic reasons, which led to the need to clean these water resources.
Increased Use of Unmanned Surface Vehicles for Defense Missions is Propelling the Market Growth
In recent years, in this market, Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) has revolutionized naval operations. They have evolved from tools to perform a variety of tasks to systems that can operate with a high level of autonomy. In addition, most countries face asymmetric warfare due to different strategies formulated by various defense departments. Asymmetric warfare can also refer to conflicts.
These conflicts often include strategies and tactics that are based on unconventional warfare. An example of an asymmetrical threat is an attack by an individual, an organization, or a nation on a government, military, or a valuable asset to acquire that asset or to destroy that state. Countries must constantly monitor these attacks to protect themselves from attacks or other applications such as illicit drug trafficking, an air crash, a maritime search investigation, payload delivery, and many more.
Limited Range and Endurance of USVs to Restrict Operational Effectiveness, Hampering the Market Growth
Today’s typical Unmanned Surface Vehicle and Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) are powered by lithium-ion batteries (Li-ion). Lithium-ion batteries are not only responsible for the overall vehicle power but also for the vehicle’s propulsion. There have been many UUV stories that have failed to achieve mission endurance in their environment. There have even been cases where UUVs have failed to move forward when faced with fast-moving traffic.
Now in development, fuel cell systems can extend mission life while providing safety and logistics benefits. Fuel cells improve vehicle availability by reducing the time it takes to recharge a vehicle’s lithium battery – replacing it with a fuel cell refueling process that takes the same amount of time as refueling a car with gasoline.
Increased Demand for Small USVs for Survey Coverage to Aid Market Growth
Based on size, the market is classified into small, medium, large, and extra-large USV. The small USV segment dominated the market in 2022. Using small USVs alongside conventional survey vessels as a ‘force-multiplier’ can double the amount of survey coverage and reduce the amount of time spent on site.
Medium USV is expected to be the fastest-growing segment during the forecast period due to its capabilities to perform military applications. Medium USVs can be used for a variety of military purposes, including fleet Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) as well as electronic warfare.
Power & Propulsion Systems to Dominate due to Higher Replacement of Human Interface Elements with Remote Human Interface
On the basis of component, the market is classified into power and propulsion systems, communication systems, sensors & optronics, hull, inertial navigation & positioning system, ISR & imaging systems, and weapon payloads. The power & propulsion systems segment is expected to be the dominant and fastest growing segment in the 2023-2030 period. In USVs, the builder must replace the human interface elements with a remote human interface. Developing remote-control capabilities for the propulsion systems requires interaction with their proprietary and closed internal communications. Torqeedo and Volvo, as well as Mercury and many others, offer control interfaces that are intended for human operation. For the uncrewed vessel, improved control interfaces are necessary to make the designer's job easy.
Use of Remotely Operated USVs is Rising due to Great Performance
By mode of operation, the market is classified into autonomous and remotely operated. The remotely operated segment dominated the market share in 2022. Companies are seeking to leverage the advantages of remote operation and unmanned vessel technologies to improve performance and reduce costs and risks in a variety of offshore wind farm offshore development and subsea operations.
The autonomous segment is going to be the fastest growing segment for the period 2023-2030. The autopilot allows an USV to run a mission autonomously from beginning to end. USV operators can use the same sophisticated features found in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Due to advanced technology movement, the autonomous segment is growing the fastest.
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Short (Upto 100 Hours) Segment in the Unmanned Surface Vehicle to Support the Market Growth
As per endurance, the market is classified into short (upto 100 hours), medium (100 – 500 hours), long (500 – 1000 hours), and extra-long (above 1000 hours). The short (upto 100 hours) segment dominated the market share in 2022 due to high demand for short endurance USVs for natural resource mapping & exploration and environmental & meteorological monitoring.
The medium (100 – 500 hours) segment is expected to be the fastest growing segment during 2023-2030 period. The segment is growing due to high demand for long hour endurance USVs for exploration purposes. The vehicle searches for extended periods of time and over large areas, continuously choosing and visiting the target survey sites.
Growing Demand of Kayak (Single Hull) USVs to Support Marine Explorations will Lead to Market Growth
Based on hull type, the market is classified into kayak (single hull), catamaran (twin hull), trimaran (triple hull), and rigid inflatable hull. The kayak (single hull) segment is expected to be dominant and the fastest growing segment in 2023-2030. Bathymetry, Benthic Properties, Water Column Components, and Hyperspectral Radiometry are some of the environmental parameters that can be measured in shallow coastal marine environments by kayak (single hull) USVs. The demand for kayak (single hull) USVs will remain high as marine exploration activities will be growing over the forecast period.
Hydrography & Oceanography Segment Dominated as Hydrographic Surveys are the Most Popular and Well-established
On the basis of application, the market is classified into intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, naval & homeland security, anti-submarine warfare, hydrography & oceanography, environmental & meteorological monitoring, natural resource mapping & exploration, and others.
The hydrography & oceanography segment dominated the market share in 2022. Hydrographic surveys are the most popular and well-established field where unmanned surface vehicles are used. These surveys typically require long sail times and constant round-trips. With the autonomous navigation system built into hydrographic survey USVs, one can ignore repetitive, laborious tasks.
The intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance segment is expected to be the fastest growing segment for 2023-2030. USVs have a variety of military uses, including powered seabed targets, mine hunting, surveillance and reconnaissance, strike, and area denial or sea denial. Due to growing military applications, the segment growth is expected to be promising in the coming years.
North America Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) Market Size, 2022 (USD Billion)
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The market is studied across North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Rest of the World. The market is estimated to be dominated by North America, followed by Asia Pacific and Europe.
North America is expected to hold the largest Unmanned Surface Vehicle market share, as most of the developers are based in the region. This growth is due to an increase in the Navy's defense budget, which has increased the demand for vehicles in the U.S. In addition, increasing Canadian exports and economic development are expected to drive the market growth.
Asia Pacific is expected to be the fastest growing region during the forecast period. China is expected to lead the Asia Pacific market due to the growing demand for heavy-duty USVs in the commercial and defense sectors, including combat, cargo, and other applications. Increased USV activity in India is expected to boost the market. For instance,
In Europe, increasing oil and gas production, exploration activities, and marine activities are expected to increase the market share.
The rest of the world is also anticipated to exhibit significant growth during the forecast period due to increase in the number of autonomous vessel deliveries in the UAE. The rest of the world will witness impressive growth during the forecast period. This growth can be attributed to the expanding exploration and oil & gas industries in Latin America and the Middle East & Africa.
Development of Advanced Technologies by Key Players, such as Kongsberg Maritime and L3 Harris Technologies, to Propel Market Growth
The competitive landscape of the market is somewhat consolidated due to the presence of major players such as Kongsberg Maritime (Norway), L3 Harris Technologies Inc. (U.S.), SaaB AB (U.S.), Textron Inc (U.S.), ECA Group (France), and Fugro (Netherlands). They are focused on offering advanced and compact UAVs that can track multiple targets at once.
An Infographic Representation of Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV)s Market
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The market research report offers a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the market size and growth rate across all possible market segments. The report also includes a detailed analysis of market dynamics and emerging trends as well as the competitive landscape. Key findings of the report include the adoption trends of USV in different segments and industry trends. In-depth analysis of key players and integrated SWOT analysis, porter’s five forces analysis, businesses of key market players, macroeconomic & microeconomic indicators, and major industry trends are also covered.
CAGR of 4.4% from 2023-2030
Value (USD billion)
By Mode of Operation
By Hull Type
Fortune Business Insights says that the market value stood at USD 2.05 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach USD 2.89 billion by 2030.
Growing at a CAGR of 4.4%, the market will exhibit steady growth in the forecast period (2023-2030).
The medium USV segment is estimated to be the leading segment in this market during the forecast period.
SaaB AB, L3Harris Technologies, Textron Inc., and Kongsberg Maritime are some of the leading OEMs in the market.
North America is projected to be the largest shareholder in this market.
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