Soil Machine Dynamics

Subsea Engineering

What we do:

At SMD, they make underwater robots; hugely powerful machines that often look like massive transformers.

Robots that dig trenches on the seabed then lay in cables or pipes. Robots that help deepwater mining.  Robots that assist in submarine rescue, maintenance or exploring wrecks and heritage sites. Explosion-proof Robots to check explosive devices.

The company has been doing this since 1971 and are now renowned in the Subsea sector for their expertise in building machines that function in harsh environments and can withstand tremendous pressures.

SMD plough robots are lowered from a mother ship and then towed along the seafloor.  Others crawl the sea bed on giant caterpillar tracks or are propeller-driven to swim in the sea.

All Operate in the dark and hostile world far below the sea’s surface and must be controlled and operated remotely via umbilical cords.  Cords that link each machine to a complete power unit and operators control desk that sits aboard the ship on the surface.

Why we do it:

SMD machines operate in places where people never go. They create the infrastructure that we all depend upon yet often never know exists.

SMD subsea machines lay telecom cables to help us communicate overseas. They lay pipelines or cables to bring offshore gas or petroleum or power from windfarms back to shore.  They're creating substantial subsea mines to bring minerals we need for modern technology. Their mobile robots help check we are safe from nuclear radiation or identified devices. There are remotely operated vehicles that allow us to map the seabed, investigate wreckage or explore heritage sites.

Not surprising then, that the team at SMD feels doubly inspired by their work.

Not only is the design and build side stimulating but also there is the knowledge that their products have a real social purpose.

The People who do it:

It’s an exciting business to be in, and for many an engineer, it’s the ultimate. Building giant robots!

Many SMD robots are designed and built for a particular use.  Often the team doesn’t know what it’s going to be making until the brief is fully understood.

As each project has its challenges meaning the team must pool their skills and innovate to find a design solution that will work. Then there comes a considerable teamwork effort to assemble, test and ready for transport. For all involved, there’s a great sense of satisfaction. “Wow, we built that!”

And then they everyone moves onto the next challenge.


Our Engineers include:

The SMD team includes electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, structural engineers, software designers, hardware engineers, multiskilled assembly technicians, project managers and specialists in underwater technology.

With clients all around the world there is a real chance to travel.

Davy Bank Wallsend NE28 6UZ
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How to Join Us:

SMD operates in a field where British engineering leads the world.

The company is always keen to hear from passionate engineers with the right skills who are seeking challenging opportunities.

It operates a long-standing a graduate scheme, plus summer placements or opportunities for graduates to work as part of their year out placements.

Follow the links to find out more.

Who We Work With:

CTC Marine, Qinetiq, Offcom Nigeria, Monterey Aquarium Research, Sellafield UK, Atlantis Resources, Allied Marine Malaysia, Subsea7 Brazil, Fugro Netherlands, General Cable USA, Technip Offshore Wind, E-Marine  Middle East, Nautilus Minerals, Shanghai Salvage China, Orange Marine France, SPSS  China, Assodivers Greece, CCCUE  Abu Dhabi, Kokusai  Cable Ships Japan, Subcom USA, Global Marine Systems, Northern Offshore Denmark, BT Marine,European Marine, NT2 Japan, James Fisher UK, Mayflower.


In the Community:

To promote the value of Engineering as a career SMD supports the local STEM Challenge, UK Subsea STEM Challenge and the Shell Ocean Discovery Prize.



Photos and videos by SMD and Autodesk.