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Underwater robots a hot export
Last Updated: 2018-05-18 10:59 | China Daily
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Domestic underwater robot producer Tianjin Sublue Ocean Science & Technology Co Ltd said it is confident it can expand its presence in the European and United States consumer markets.

"We have seen a significant surge in orders from those two markets this year. The overseas market will be a new engine for the company's growth," said Sublue CEO Wei Jiancang.

The company said it expects to produce 100,000 underwater scooters and robots for the two markets in 2018. The orders are expected to generate 70 percent of Sublue's total sales this year, said Liu Qi, general manager of Sublue New Scene Technology Co, a subsidiary.

Driven by its strength overseas, the company's sales value is expected to hit 262 million yuan ($41.8 million) this year, stunning growth from the 90 million yuan reported last year, Liu said.

Sublue has been engaged in producing autonomous and remote underwater vehicles and gliders since 2013. Previously, their products were mainly bought for use in underwater salvage, marine research, disaster prevention and the military.

Sublue began to explore commercial and consumer markets last year, with scooters and underwater robots becoming a new driving force for the company. Market insiders said global spending on the underwater robots is expected to hit $30 million within the next five years.

To date, the company has managed to attract venture capital of 220 million yuan.

According to Liu, the production of underwater scooters and robots for divers creates the challenge of reducing the size and weight of the battery inside. The company is currently seeking a way to manufacture a scooter battery that can generate power of 200 watts per hour.

Wei said most underwater robot producers are devoted to technology exports, but few of them can provide comprehensive solutions for their target markets, and current after sales service standards are insufficient.

He said the market's growth is also hampered by the difficulty in researching the areas 5,000 meters below sea level with today's technologies.

An artificial intelligence company like Sublue, which emerged from China but is finding its foothold overseas, is not a strange story for the industry because of solid global market demand, said Liu Gang, chief economist at the Chinese Institute of New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Strategies in Tianjin.

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