The underwater robots were developed for the exploration and the intervention at sea within the scientific, military and industrial sectors. Recent problems of the global warming, the necessity of new energy resources, new defence scenarios are requesting "more" robots for "environmental surveillance and monitoring" and "safe intervention".
All over the world, today, several thousands of underwater robots are being used to fulfil "real works" and several hundreds of prototypes are being employed for "technological research". In the Seventies, the needs of the offshore industries, and the constant pressure by military sectors induced the progressive replacement of human intervention by underwater robots. This happened firstly in shallow water, due to economic reasons. Then, with the deepening of the interventions, the physiological limits of divers determined the need for a growing number of underwater intelligent machines.
From the times of the scuba-pioneers exploring the blue world, to the high resolution mapping at high speed, and intervention on underwater structures with Autonomous Vehicles, technologies and also mentalities of marine scientists, technologists and users have changed.
The presentation will show the evolution of the needs versus technologies, focusing on the economical, social and knowledge acquisition impacts, for each categories of needs and systems, showing the (no)limits of the technological push and of the users dreams.