Robotic Collection System

Impossible Metals commenced work on its engineering architecture in 2020, with first patents filed in 2021. In 2021 we also closed our first funding round, enabling us to begin working on Proof of Concept for both nodule harvesting and bio-extraction technologies. We anticipate delivering Proof of Concept in late 2022.

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Nodule Harvesting

Impossible Metals is developing proof of concept engineering for selective harvesting of deep sea polymetallic nodules. An AUV robotics fleet will be developed using “pick and place” manipulator technology to harvest nodules individually, minimising disturbance of the sediment and seafloor ecosystems. Image sensing technology will identify megafauna present on the nodules and will leave those nodules untouched, allowing for the preservation of nodule dependent fauna. The major advantages of this system include:

  • Low environmental impacts – avoidance of nodule fauna, no significant plume, no return water, no impact to sediment structure or sediment fauna.
  • Scalable – no single point(s) of failure, ability to start with low production rate and increase over time.
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Development Progress on Proof of Concept

TIME Magazine interview with Impossible Metals

The AUV collects nodules individually using multiple high speed manipulators, staying buoyant above the seafloor.

The custom robotic arm and vision system are tested for fast nodule collection.

Technician checking underwater vision system
Technician checking underwater vision system

The underwater vision system is tested in a tank in the robotics lab.