Remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs, are tethered or autonomous underwater robots, although they are occasionally used on land and in space exploration. The ROV operates in environments lethal or hazardous to people, while the operator or engineer directs the robot from a comfortable setting. According to the Remotely Operated Vehicles Committee of the Marine Technology Society, as of 2014, there are about 25 universities where students can pursue a degree or take coursework related to ROVs. Ranking Web of Universities, which ranks most schools worldwide, helped guide the selection of top regional schools, in conjunction with an analysis of the programs offered at each school.

Atlantic Seaboard

Massachusetts Institute of Technology of Cambridge, Center for Ocean Engineering, offers bachelor's through doctoral level programs in ocean engineering. An emphasis at the center is marine robotics, with coursework offered in robotics, such as the design of electromechanical robotic systems, design of ocean systems, and introduction to robotics. All ocean engineering students must complete the fundamentals of mechanical engineering, with coursework, such as statistics, dynamics and fluid mechanics. Graduates from MIT in ocean engineering are at the cutting edge of ocean engineering research and exploration, working in the offshore oil industry, performing ocean monitoring, and working with underwater vehicles.


The University of New Orleans, College of Engineering, offers undergraduate and graduate opportunities in remotely operated vehicle development, such as a Department of Defense grant to develop a robotic eel for the U.S. Navy. The college is home to several departments, including the Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. Graduate students can take coursework in other engineering departments and participate in research. The National Center for Advanced Manufacturing, a partnership between the university, NASA, and other universities, provides special research capabilities, such as multi-axis robotic equipment, in addition to the many laboratories within the college.

Middle States

Texas A&M University at College Station, Ocean Engineering Program within the Civil Engineering Department, offers a range of degree programs from the bachelor's level to a doctorate. The department offers a coastal and ocean engineering concentration with application to ocean engineering, including submersible vehicles. The program focus includes ocean mining, search and salvage, and the offshore petroleum industry. Undergraduate and graduate students have the opportunity to participate in coastal and ocean engineering research, such as remote sensing. In addition, there are research opportunities at centers, such as the Offshore Technology Research Center, with the ability to conduct high-resolution seafloor mapping, augmenting over 30 experimental and computer laboratories within the college.

Western States

Stanford University of Stanford, California, operates the Aerospace Robotics Laboratory and the Autonomous Systems Lab within the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The Robotics Laboratory focus includes mobile robots that function on land, and in sea, sky and space. The Autonomous Systems Lab emphasizes large-scale robotic networks and autonomous aerospace vehicles. As of 2014, current projects included Terrain Relative Navigation, where a robotic vehicle can estimate position by measuring terrain and comparing the measurement to a map, applicable to underwater vehicles. Students are currently working on a variety of projects, such as autonomous mapping of free-drifting icebergs and hazard estimation during autonomous lunar landing. Student researchers are primarily doctoral candidates from various engineering fields at Stanford.