Unmanned vehicles are profoundly impacting business models on land and in air. In the maritime sector, this sort of growth has been lagging, but it is beginning to catch up. Traditionally, unmanned vehicles, especially ROVs, have been critical to successful marine operations but have not changed the business model for maritime industries. The cost of vessels and staff still dominates the economics of most marine operations. This is now changing with the growth of “low-logistics” unmanned vehicles, including ROVs and AUVs. In the last decade, there has been a change in attitude towards AUV operations. Previously, the AUV was reserved for specialist activities in specific jobs, requiring much mobilization effort, dedicated vessels, and an extensive suite of ancillary equipment.
The marine community may not be on the verge of profound disruption, like the kind brought about by aviation “drones,” but new low-logistics, high-performance unmanned vehicles are definitely offering new options for improved productivity at lower costs, and changing old business models in the process.