AUVs are still relatively young, in that thirty years ago they were still considered more “technical curiosities”  that had been proven in testing but had not yet been accepted and used as valid instruments. Today, however, they are used worldwide for a wide variety of applications. Generally, the purpose of an AUV falls into one (or more) of the following categories: scientific, military, or commercial. A brief timeline of AUV development is shown below.
A timeline of AUV developments from the 1960s to the present
Bellingham, J. G. (2014). Have robot, will travel. Methods in Oceanography. 10, 5-20.
MarketsandMarkets. (2016). Autonomous Underwater Vehicles Market worth 497.9 Million USD by 2022. Retrieved from http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/PressReleases/autonomous-underwater-vehicles.asp
Last revised: April 12, 2019