The ASRV (Automated Survival Recovery Vehicle) used on the Enterprise-D.
About this creation
The ASRV is a 6-occupant lifeboat commonly used on Galaxy-class and Nebula-class starships (possibly the earlier Ambassador-class as well).
Although never shown on screen, the Galaxy-class’s lifeboats are recognized by their visible exterior hatches—the first time in Star Trek that we ever see them on a ship’s hull. In fact, the Enterprise-D is covered with these hatches, with a total of 446, accommodating a maximum of 2676 people.
The Enterprise-D also has additional specialized lifeboats for its cetaceans, but these are deployed through the ventral cargo hatches on either side of the captain’s yacht.
22 lifeboats are on the ventral hull of the engineering section. A further 14 are located on the dorsal surface of the cobra head, which is only exposed when the ship is separated. When supplemented by shuttlecraft, transporters, and other possible means of egress (such as EVA suits like the one Spock uses in TMP) there are many options for escaping the ship. None of which were useful at Veridian III.
By the time of the Intrepid class, the lifeboat design had changed to a hexagonal shape. However, it still accommodated 6 people and had a similar hatch on the hull. Later ships like the Sovereign class had a completely new design that was fully integrated into the hull, rather than being covered with a hinged hatch.