Japan Eyes Domestic Underwater Drone Production by 2030

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Artist’s rendering of AUV exploration rtist’s rendering of AUV exploration

The government aims to industrialize domestic production of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), or underwater drones, by 2030, according to a new strategy.

The government strategy lays out plans for the public and private sectors to jointly engage in state-of-the-art research and development projects.

AUVs are used to map seafloor topography, among other purposes. In the global AUV market, Japan lags the United States and China. Many of the AUVs used in Japan are made overseas, prompting the government to draw up the strategy to encourage domestic firms to enter the business.

The strategy stresses the importance of involving AUVs in various marine activities, including development, observation and survey of marine resources, as well the realm of security.

The government will take the initiative to develop the domestic AUV industry so that it can expand overseas by 2030.

Regarding future steps for “technological development,” the strategy details three different types of AUVs: a cutting-edge model, to be used at depths of more than 3,000 meters; a small, reasonably priced, mass-produced model to be used in shallow depths; and specific-purpose models, to be developed in line with various needs.

The government intends to share information regarding the vehicles’ basic software — related to navigation control and communications — with the aim of encouraging new companies to enter the market.

The strategy also details the government’s aim of training and securing human resources in the marine field who can play leading roles in the AUV industry.

Courtesy of Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology
The AUV-Next, owned by the Japan Agency for Maritime-Earth Science and Technology, can explore down to a depth of 4,000 meters.