General – Nodule Collector Vehicle
TMC announced the successful completion of its North Sea drive test program for the robotic polymetallic nodule collector vehicle designed by the Company’s strategic partner and shareholder Allseas.
During the drive test program performed in the Dutch Sector of the North Sea, the collector vehicle underwent extensive testing of critical mobility and all systems were shown to be functional.
Covering a distance of 4,533 meters, Allseas engineers put the collector vehicle through its paces, driving it forwards and backwards at various speeds, and in different directions. In addition, tests were undertaken to raise and lower the vehicle’s adjustable collector heads – another critical function.
“This North Sea drive test is a key milestone that not only shows that our collector can be remotely operated in open seas but that it can do so in parallel motion with the Hidden Gem’s dynamic positioning system,” said Gerard Barron, CEO & Chairman of The Metals Company. “The tests show that the collector can be controlled with a very high level of accuracy that will enable us to build and execute detailed mine plans that respect the bathymetry, sediment characteristics, and ecology of the deep seafloor. These trials are proving what we always knew about Allseas, that they take on every engineering task with unsurpassed attention to detail and this is why they have the highest level of success in the offshore industry.”
The accurate positioning and coordinated movement of the collector vehicle and Hidden Gem will be vital for planned future offshore operations and engineers successfully completed a variety of tests of the vessel’s dynamic positioning system, confirming its ability to adjust speed and heading as the collector drives across the seafloor.
Since 2019, Allseas and TMC have been working together to develop a pilot system to responsibly collect unattached polymetallic nodules from the seafloor and lift them to the surface for transportation to shore. Nodules contain high grades of nickel, manganese, copper and cobalt — key metals required for building electric vehicle batteries and renewable energy technologies.