Japan Govt. Aims to Promote Domestic Production of Underwater Drones

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.

The government plans to establish a council to promote domestic production of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), also known as underwater drones, according to an intermediate plan on the government’s strategy for such craft.

The public-private council will be a pillar of the strategy, and is expected to examine problems related to both demand and supply, including how to utilize AUVs in the future. The government plans to set up the council as early as May, before the strategy is finalized.

AUVs are used for such purposes as observation and surveys of seafloor topography. The government believes they will come to play even more important roles in marine resource development and security.

The United States has the largest share of the global AUV market. China, Britain and other countries have also started developing such vehicles, but many of the AUVs used in Japan are foreign-made.

Japan’s government intends to enhance the performance of domestic AUVs and promote their production as a matter of economic security, to ensure a stable supply.

Domestic manufacturing of AUVs has seen slow progress, apparently because of the small market size and lack of clear prospects for their profitability.

The government’s intermediate plan states that the envisaged council will be joined by domestic businesses and universities that are keen to develop and utilize AUVs, as well as relevant government bodies, to create an environment to help businesses feel secure in tackling development.

It also stipulates that the government will draw up prospects for the future size of the market and a timetable detailing procedures for its industrialization. The plan further states that the government is considering devising criteria for using AUVS in relation with ocean development and measures to protect intellectual property rights.

The AUV strategy is expected to be adopted by the government’s Headquarters for Ocean Policy as early as by the end of this year.