May 23, 2013: The Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Manufacturing industry has generated robust growth over the past five years. From 2008 to 2013, industry revenue has posted double-digit gains, growing at an average annual rate of 13.8% to an estimated $156.9 million in revenue.

According to IBISWorld industry analyst Caitlin Moldvay, “First developed in the 1960s, AUVs are underwater vessels programmed to perform a set task that can travel independently with their own power source.” The industry generates the majority of its revenue from military and security markets given that AUVs are used for surveillance, reconnaissance, mine countermeasures and anti-submarine warfare. Rising defense spending over the past five years has generated stable growth from this downstream market, with federal funding for defense rising on average 1.5% over the past five years. AUVs are also used for scientific research, primarily for mapping the ocean floor, testing water samples and polar ice research.

However, the industry has generated its fastest growth from rising usage of AUVs by oil and gas companies for mapping the ocean floor and performing pipeline inspections. “Increasingly, AUVs are being used in place of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) given that they are more cost effective, have higher resolution capabilities and can travel at faster speeds,” says Moldvay. Consequently, expanding commercial applications of AUVs has driven robust industry growth over the past five years. In 2013, IBISWorld projects that the industry will continue expanding, with industry revenue expected to rise 17.5%.

The AUV Manufacturing industry has a moderate level of concentration, defined as the top four players accounting for between 40.0% and 70.0% of total industry revenue. Major players are Kongsberg Maritime, Boeing, and Bluefin Robotics represent a combined 63.2% of industry revenue in 2013. Over the past five years, concentration has increased due to Kongsberg’s acquisition of Hydroid in 2008 that established it as the clear market leader. The total market size is small, with only eight firms operating domestically with $156.9 million in sales, contributing to the industry’s moderate concentration level.

Furthermore, the level of technical expertise and specialization of AUVs acts as a barrier to new market entrants, which has kept the level of market share concentration stable when not factoring in consolidation. Over the next five years, IBISWorld anticipates market share concentration to decrease gradually as industry revenue rapidly expands, but the industry to maintain a moderate level of market share concentration.

Over the next five years, the AUV Manufacturing industry is expected to continue its double-digit growth, with revenue forecast to rise. Expanded usage of AUVs for commercial purposes will underpin the industry’s growth over the next five years. In particular, oil and gas companies are expected to increasingly invest in deepwater drilling and offshore platforms, which will raise demand for AUVs to perform pipeline inspections and map the ocean floor.

However, the industry’s growth will likely be mitigated by declining federal defense spending, which remains a keymarket for the industry.

– 30 –