The argument can be made that the only truly “intelligent” autonomous underwater vehicle today is still an HOV (Human Occupied Vehicle), or manned submersible.
As we continue to make technological strides in robotics and autonomous vehicles, there are industries that envisage a future in which crewed vehicles become increasingly redundant. For many industries, including the subsea sector, autonomous vehicle technology has a promising future, but it would be a mistake to suggest that it is the only path forward in addressing some of the more complex challenges the marine sector will likely face in the years ahead.
The simplicity, practicality, and low operating costs that some of today’s new manned submersibles offer the marine sector, even for shallow water, is remarkable. Manned subs are independent from their surface support ships and they incorporate human know-how and real-time decision-making ability to the underwater work site.
These vehicles are competitive in their capital expenditures requirements and off er clear benefits in operating costs, operational efficiencies, the quality of recorded data, the quality of the situational understanding, and on the performance of complex underwater intervention tasks. These points can make the manned submersible the better solution, depending on a project’s specific context and prime objectives, no matter whether the goals are scientific, industrial, or defense and security.