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Underwater Robots Could Usher in High-Tech Future for Deep Sea Mining

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The Eureka robot during a test run.

The shallow water prototype is just an early step in the company's journey. The long-term goal is to deploy a fleet of underwater vehicles, each costing about $5 million, which could travel four miles underwater.

Credit: CBS Mornings

Renee Grogan at sustainable underwater mining solutions developer Impossible Metals envisions underwater robots as key to harvesting precious metals from the seafloor without harming the ecosystem.

High-technology products like solar panels, smartphones, and batteries for electric vehicles incorporate such metals.

Impossible Metals' Eureka used an artificial intelligence-driven retractable arm to pick rocks off the bottom of Lake Huron as part of a test run.

The company's long-term goal is to deploy a fleet of camera- and arm-equipped robots that could travel four miles underwater, plucking metal nodules while hovering over the ocean sand.

Grogan said she believes her company is about "halfway down the path" to a time when the robots will be used for deep-sea mining, with commercial-scale deployment anticipated within five years.

From CBS News
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