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Unmanned Underwater Vehicles Market Size, Share and Industry Analysis, By Type (Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), and Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV)), By Application (Commercial Exploration, Scientific Research, Defense), By Product Type (Small Vehicle, High-Capacity Electric Vehicle, Work-Class Vehicle), By Propulsion System (Electric System), By Payload (Camera, Sensors, Inertial Navigation System), and Regional Forecast 2019-2026

Region : Global | Format: PDF | Report ID: FBI102527



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The global unmanned underwater vehicles market Size was valued at USD 2.96 billion in 2018 is projected to reach USD 7.53 billion by 2026, exhibiting a CAGR of 12.8% during the forecast period.

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Unmanned underwater vehicles are capable of operating while submerged underwater without the need for a human operator present in the vehicle. The major applications of UUVs are underwater search and survey, maritime surveillance, submarine track and trail, and communication and navigational. These UUVs are mainly divided into categories – remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).

Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are operated remotely by a human operator onboard a nearby vessel and connected to the base of operations via a link that provides both powers, and communications to the vehicle. The smallest ROVs are also known as inspection class vehicles that carried a single camera and equipped with sonar and other sensors to perform operations. Work-class ROVs are large unmanned underwater vehicles to carry manipulators and additional sensors.

Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are capable of performing operations without real-time control from a human operator. These AUVs are programmed to collect data along a predetermined route, and are able to make decisions and can change their mission parameters as per the received data. The AUVs are widely used in scientific research and for surveying in the oil and gas industry. These AUVs are also used for naval defense applications such as payload delivery, mine detection, and surveillance. Military AUVs are networked with unmanned aerial vehicles to provide cross-domain intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) solutions for the battlefield.

In February 2020, Sonardyne International, a technology provider for unmanned underwater vehicles and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) had acquired 2G Robotics Inc., the underwater imaging and Inspection Company.


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Development of Underwater Artificial Intelligence Systems for Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

The introduction of artificial intelligence in the autonomous underwater vehicle will create lucrative opportunities for manufacturers during the forecast period. Underwater artificial intelligence enables unmanned devices to map sea beds and carry out underwater infrastructure repair, which is hazardous for human technicians. The introduction of underwater artificial intelligence and 3D computer imagining the subaquatic robotics sector helps in reducing the cost of producing offshore renewable energies.

In June 2019, Envitia Group PLC, a geospatial and data company, had signed a contract with Royal Navy to deliver an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). The company has expertise around applying AI and machine learning to complex data problems.

Development of the Technologically Advanced Miniature UUVs Is the Latest Trend in the UUV Market

The development of advanced small class unmanned underwater vehicles from the manufacturers provides better solutions for naval operations. These small class UUVs are used for a wide variety of missions, including commercial and defense applications such as multi-domain intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), long-range surveys, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), seabed warfare, and mine warfare.

The UUV has advanced features such as tracking and safety communications, precise measurements, and high accuracy navigation. Furthermore, UUVs have special features such as extended endurance for longer missions, durable, high accuracy depth sensors, and swappable payloads. In February 2020, Hydroid, Inc., a subsidiary of Kongsberg Maritime, had delivered the first REMUS 300 Unmanned Underwater Vehicle to the U.S. Navy through the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU). 


Increasing Deep-Water Offshore Oil & Gas Production Propels the Market Growth

The demand for oil & gas has grown significantly over the years as oil is the main energy source for all the industries, including transportation and other sectors. The oil and gas cannot be easily substituted by alternative energy sources. Increasing oil and gas exploration activities from deep water created a major demand for remotely operated vehicles.

According to the Energy Information Administration of the U.S., in the year 2015, global offshore oil production from deep-water projects reached around 9.3 million barrels per day. The majority of deep-water production occurs in four countries that are the United States, Brazil, Norway, and Angola. The U.S. and Brazil account for more than 90% of global ultra-deep-water production. However, the economic downturn and lockdown situation in the major parts of the oil and gas sector is affected by the UUVs market in the forecast period.

Growing Concerns over Maritime Security and Naval Cross Border Threats Drives the Unmanned Underwater Vehicles Market

Maritime piracy and maritime terrorism are some of the major concerns and threats to global shipping, imposing substantial human life economic costs. Furthermore, port security, drug smuggling via sea and migrant smuggling are some of the threats to maritime security. The increasing use of UUVs to overcome such threats and improve maritime security through ISR operations drives market growth. These are emerging class of unmanned maritime vehicles (UMVs) with the potential to transform anti-submarine warfare (ASW) through new capabilities for sensing in the sea domain. These submarine drones employ active sonar to detect, characterize, and track adversary submarines via an unmanned mobile platform under the sea.

Furthermore, these are used for several missions, including communications, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and mine countermeasures. Moreover, the SandShark AUV developed by Bluefin Robotics used for military missions, including anti-submarine warfare (ASW), port and harbor security, communications relay, a rapid environmental assessment (REA), unexploded ordnance discovery, and mobile acoustic countermeasure.


Less Reliability and Uncertainty in Operational Failure Due to Technical Problems Hampers the Market Growth

Unmanned underwater vehicles face many technical challenges in communications technologies used to transmit and receive information, especially at longer ranges. In the underwater scenario, water attenuates radio waves and other wireless signals, and high bandwidth communications are difficult with the traditional communication technologies. Low propagation speed is the major concern that translates into significant latency over long distances. Such factors affect UUV performance and restrict the growth of the unmanned underwater vehicle market.

Some of the manufacturers used laser communications, but these laser communication systems are expensive and consume a considerable amount of energy, thus, hampers the growth of the market.


By Type Analysis

Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Segment to Gain Momentum during the Forecast Period

Based on the type, the market is segmented into a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) and autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). Among these, the remotely operated vehicle segment holds the highest market share in this market. The ROVs are mostly used for critical missions and are best suited for rough and unpredictable terrains.

The autonomous underwater segment will show significant growth during the forecast period. Manufacturers are focusing on the development of new autonomous underwater vehicles to increase the efficiency of the vehicles and minimize human interference.

ECA Group developed new generation mid-size autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), A18-M. The AUV is capable of mine countermeasures (MCM) missions that can operate autonomously in the close vicinity of the mines by keeping crew out of the danger zone.

By Application Analysis

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Increasing Use of UUVs for Naval Operations in the Defense Sector Will Drive the Growth of the Market

Based on the application, the market is classified into commercial exploration, scientific research, defense, and miscellaneous. The defense segment holds the highest market share and predicted to be the leading market segment during the forecast period. This growth is attributed to the increasing use of the UUVs by the defense forces to encounter maritime security threats such as submarine warfare, seabed mines, and anti-ship & anti-submarine missiles, and others. Furthermore, the manufacturers operating in this market are focusing on the development of advanced UUVs for critical missions. The advanced UUVs are integrated with enhanced ISR capabilities and improved sensors highly adopted by the defense forces for naval operations.

The commercial explorations segment will witness significant growth during the forecast period. The growth is due to the increasing demand for UUVs in commercial applications such as offshore drilling, pipeline inspection, and surveys, and seabed mapping.

By Product Type Analysis

Increasing demand for Heavy Work-Class UUVs for Deep Water Surveys Propelling the Market Growth

By product type, the market is classified into a small vehicle, high-capacity electric vehicle, work-class vehicle, heavy work-class vehicle. The small vehicle segment will witness significant growth during the forecast period owing to the increasing use in applications for observations of water column properties, monitoring, and benthic zones. The high capacity electric vehicles are used for deep-water surveys. The heavy work class vehicles are equipped with a wide range of sensors, communication systems, and navigation & positioning systems. These heavy work vehicles are useful in deep water surveys, and extreme lifting with improved efficiency and decrease downtime. Furthermore, significant growth in navy budgets for safety and security, an increasing number of projects related to oceanography, and research drive the work class underwater vehicle segment.

By Propulsion System Analysis

Introduction of Advanced Electric System Drive the Market Growth

By propulsion system, the market is divided into the electric system, mechanical system, and hybrid system. Among these, the electric system segment will show significant growth in the unmanned underwater vehicles market during the forecast period. Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) can operate without a complex support system. The AUVs carry their energy source and do not need external power.

The mechanical system segment also shows moderate growth as the mechanical system includes designing, prototyping, and manufacturing of the various AUV components. The major mechanical components include actuation for the payloads, pressure hulls, and structural frame of AUV. The increasing demand for AUVs will, in turn, creates demand for mechanical systems.                       

By Payload Analysis

Growing Use of Advanced Cameras and Sensors Drives the Market Growth

By payload, the market is segmented into the camera, sensors, inertial navigation system, and others. The camera segment is anticipated to be the largest segment in this market. Increasing the use of high-resolution cameras is the most widely used payload in UUVs that drives the growth of the segment.

The sensors segment will witness significant growth during the forecast period. The growth is attributed to the growing use of sensors in the defense sector for mapping, scanning, detecting, and remote sensing. Moreover, the sensors are also used in the commercial sector to measure the concentration of elements and compounds, and the detection of the presence of microscopic life.


North America Unmanned Underwater Vehicles Market Size, 2015-2026 (USD Million)

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Unmanned underwater vehicles market has been segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa. North America holds the highest market share in this market. The United States is the largest producer, operator, and exporter of unmanned underwater vehicles globally. The growing use of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) in commercial and defense sectors is anticipated to drive the growth of the ROVs market in North America. The growing use of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) for carrying deepwater surveys for the oil & gas production propels the market growth in the region. Furthermore, the presence of key players such as Teledyne Technologies Corporation, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Boeing, and others drives the market.

Asia Pacific will witness significant growth in the market during the forecast period. The growth is attributed to the increasing investments in the defense sector from several countries such as India, China, Japan, South Korea, and others. The countries have increased their defense budgets and procurement of advanced UUVs for naval operations.

In Europe, this market will witness moderate growth due to the presence of key players such as Kongsberg Maritime, Saab Group, and others. The Middle East will witness moderate growth during the forecast period. This growth is owing to the increasing use of AUVs and ROVs from several countries for naval operations across the region.

Latin America will witness significant growth during the forecast period owing to the increasing offshore activities in deepwater oil production in Brazil drive the market growth across the region.


The Innovative Technology Implemented by Key Market Players is Propelling the Market Growth

Rapid technological advancements for longer mission life, pipeline inspection in AUV are the latest trends in this market. In addition, increasing focus on the development of reduced vehicle size and the use of 3D printing from key players improves the operational efficiency of UUV. A diversified product portfolio coupled with innovative technology and R&D activity is the prominent factor responsible for the dominance of these key market players.



  • February 2019 – Boeing had signed a contract of worth USD 43 million with the U.S. Navy to build four Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (XLUUVs) for the service.

  • November 2017- Lockheed Martin had signed a contract with the U.S. navy worth USD 43.2 million for Orca, the U.S. Navy’s Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (XLUUV).


The unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) market report offers qualitative and quantitative insights and the detailed analysis of market size & growth rate for all possible segments in the market.

Along with this, the report provides an elaborative analysis of market dynamics, emerging trends, and competitive landscape. Key insights offered in the report are the adoption trends of UUVs by individual segments, recent industry developments such as partnerships, mergers & acquisitions, consolidated SWOT analysis of key players, Porter’s five forces analysis, business strategies of leading market players, macro and micro-economic indicators, and key industry trends.

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Reports Scope & Segmentation



Study Period


Base Year


Forecast Period


Historical Period



  Value (USD Million)

By Type

  • Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)

  • Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV)

By Application

  • Commercial Exploration

  • Scientific Research

  • Defense

  • Miscellaneous

By Product Type

  • Small Vehicle

  • High-Capacity Electric Vehicle

  • Work-Class Vehicle

  • Heavy Work-Class Vehicle

By Propulsion System

  • Electric System

  • Mechanical System

  • Hybrid System

By Payload

  • Camera

  • Sensors

  • Inertial Navigation System

  • Others

By Region

  • North America (The U.S., and Canada)

  • Europe (The U.K, Germany, France, Russia, and Rest of Europe)

  • Asia Pacific (China, India, Japan, Australia, and Rest of Asia Pacific)

  • The Middle East (The UAE, Turkey, Israel, and Rest of the Middle East)

  • Latin America (Brazil, and Mexico)

  • Africa (Nigeria, and South Africa)

Frequently Asked Questions

Fortune Business Insights says that the global Market was valued at USD 2.96 Billion in 2018 and is projected to reach USD 7,536 Million by 2026.

Growing at a CAGR of 12.83%, the market will exhibit steady growth in the forecast period (2019-2026).

In 2018, the market value stood at USD 2.96 Billion.

The defense segment is estimated to be the leading segment in this market during the forecast period.

Increasing Deep-Water Offshore Oil & Gas Production drive the Growth of the Market

Boeing, General Dynamics Corporation, Teledyne Technologies Incorporated, and among others, are some of the leading manufacturing companies in the market.

North America is projected to be the largest shareholder in the global Market.

The introduction of advanced technologies such as AI and the development of next-generation small class UUVs are the latest trends in the market.

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Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUV) Market Size, Share and Global Industry Trend Forecast till 2026
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