In a major development in China’s push for hi-tech exploration of deep sea resources, an unmanned submersible has passed its final field test.
Dubbed “Haima,” or sea horse, the vehicle can operate at a depth of about 4,500 meters via remote control, the Ministry of Science and Technology says. Equipped with eight cameras and two multifunctional robotic arms, the vehicle’s capabilities include conducting a number of deep-sea operations: shooting pictures and videos, positioning, and retrieving samples.
Meanwhile, Qianlong-1, another unmanned submersible still in the trial stage, is designed to travel to a depth of 6,000 meters and will be tasked with exploring the seabed and collecting hydrological data.
In 2012, Jiaolong, the country’s most advanced manned submersible, achieved a record dive depth of more than 7,000 meters in the Pacific’s Mariana Trench.
The U.S. Navy’s Bluefin-21, an unmanned submersible currently deployed in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, has a maximum operating depth of 4,500 meters. It can create a three-dimensional sonar map of any debris on the ocean floor. However, the search area for the missing Malaysian plane has proved challenging as silt covers much of the seabed.
This report compiled with information from Xinhua and The Associated Press.