The Maritime sector has been transformed by digitalisation and technological innovation in practically every area, from underwater drones to airborne equipment. As a result, several ocean-related infrastructure and robotics projects in the works could potentially have a significant influence in the future.
Technological progress is accelerating in four areas:
- ocean sensing and imaging instruments (using artificial intelligence and machine-to-machine communication);
- expansion of spatial coverage of float arrays and fixed observation platforms;
- increasing autonomy in mobile platforms;
- new complex systems integration schemes.
Another area that is becoming increasingly active in the Blue Economy is the use of maritime robots. For example, underwater robots are used for different maritime environments, such as scientific research, exploration of oil and gas, and border surveillance.
Underwater systems are among the most valuable sectors within the robotics market, particularly in defence and military surveillance operations. They also enable ocean or underwater exploration in challenging environmental situations.
Technological advancement in the field of sensors and in state-of-the-art robotic technology will contribute to the growth of the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) market. However, marine robotics has been slow to gain traction due to the expense of R&D, the intricacy of underwater activities (such as communication), and navigation, and technological limitations. Despite the issues in developing, producing, and operating these robots, this technology is being used in several EU projects, some of which have received EU funding.
Commercial, defence, and scientific applications are all possible with the Global Underwater Robotics Market.
However, commercial exploration has the highest use. Many countries are currently looking for alternate oil and gas supplies to meet their needs. This has prompted them to investigate the water bodies in their area. As a result, the market for underwater robotics is being driven by the desire to explore.
Submarine cable networks are essential infrastructure that ensures data, telecommunications, and power transmission connections within the EU and between the EU and foreign nations are possible. The International Cable Protection Committee (ICPC), which brings together government agencies and business companies involved in the submarine cable industry, is a platform where various parties can exchange technical, environmental, and legal information to improve submarine cable security.
According to estimates, over 400 submarine cables were in operation worldwide in 2021, covering around 1.3 million kilometres, with 45 additional cables scheduled to be installed by 2025. Cables can carry significantly more data at less cost than satellites. The economic importance of submarine cable networks (responsible for 99% of international data transfer and communication) was further highlighted during the past two years of the global COVID-19 pandemic during which people relied more than ever on data and telecommunication exchanges provided by such subsea cables.
Data traffic demand is driving content providers such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft to invest in underwater cables, driving projects, and route prioritisation, according to the Submarine Cable Map 2020. Over half of all demand in the Atlantic, intra-Asian, and trans-Pacific submarine routes is met by these companies. As the demand for internet data grows, more submarine cables are being built.