marine minerals

Autonomous exploration of marine minerals

16 industry, research and public players have partnered in GCE‘s Centre for Deep Sea Innovation to step-change autonomous exploration.


The main application is towards marine minerals, but the potential is far greater, GCE said.

Specifically, the Centre’s main goal is to increase deep sea exploration efficiency of marine minerals with a factor of 10.

It also aims to reduce the associated CO2 footprint by a similar factor.

Additionally, the Centre has applied for status as Centre for Research based innovation (SFI), and the partners have high expectations.

Torstein Olsmo Sæbø is principal scientist at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) and is heading a key work package in the Centre within autonomy.

“Developing true autonomy and collaborative underwater vehicles will represent a paradigm shift with huge possibilities.

Status as SFI will give the Centre for Deep Sea Innovation a strong collaboration platform to develop the next generation of autonomous underwater technology,” he said.

The Centre for Deep Sea Innovation consist partners from across the entire value chain.

DeepOcean is a subsea service provider which sees new possibilities.

Andries Ferla, Group technology manager at DeepOcean, said:

“We are dedicated to actively contribute towards the development of improved surface and underwater autonomous vehicles for a wide range of applications.

“Participating in this Centre will strengthen our competence and ability to conduct unmanned and autonomous operations in multiple existing and emerging markets.

Aanderaa, a Xylem company, is another world-leading company, which sees great possibilities.

Inger M. Graves O&C product manager lead, Aanderaa/Xylem, stated:

“We have already delivered sensors and instruments to explore marine minerals and support deep sea innovation.

“The proposed Centre will be important in our company’s R&D strategy within marine minerals as well as our existing business segments.”

A key part of the Centre is bridging leading national industry and research groups with international expertise.

The partnership plans joint offshore test and pilot cruises to learn from each other and test new technology and methodology.

Enabler for Green Transition

The transition to renewable energy and electric transportation requires access to new mineral resources.

The interest for marine minerals is increasing as the legislation is moving forwards and exploration activity is showing promising results.

A key challenge to Norway’s future success, highlighted in the Norwegian Ocean Strategy, is its ability to develop existing and create new ocean industries, while balancing the need for increased productivity with sustainable utilisation and protection of the marine resources.

Multiple Applications

The Centre for Deep Sea Innovation will focus on developing truly autonomous underwater vehicles.

This includes key associated topics such as sensors, communication and advanced data analysis supporting collaborative autonomy in underwater operations.

These technologies have a wide range of application areas, where the Centre will specifically focus on marine mineral mapping, infrastructure integrity inspections and environmental monitoring.

An SFI-status will provide the Centre with the long-term funding required to realize the huge potential in the deep oceans.

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