Over the last 15 years, investment in UK infrastructure has created the largest, most diverse robotic research fleet in Europe, comprising of 10,000 vehicles with a collective value estimated at £20 million.
These unmanned, untethered robotic vehicles have vastly increased the reach of scientific research in the world’s oceans and represent the future of low-carbon ocean exploration.
Operated from the UK’s research ships and developed at the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), the vehicles go further and deeper than any commercial or military capability. They can remain at sea for many months, working in the most extreme and remote ocean environments – for example, collecting data from beneath Antarctic ice-sheets or from 6,000m below the ocean surface. Two UK companies now manufacture, sell and export marine robotic vehicles underpinned by this technology, attracting inward investment and international customers.