The pilot-miner is a key device in the mining system of poly-metallic nodule on deep seabed. In order to determine moving concept of the pilot-miner, the trafficability of the tracked vehicle and Archimedean screws vehicle on soft soil in laboratory are showed, and the developing process and main tech-specification of the pilot-miner are also described in the paper. Based on theory of multi-rigid body and considering the coupling effect of many factors, the multi-rigid body model and the virtual pilot-miner with a scale of 1:1 to the actual size of the pilot-miner are developed in the software ADAMS (Automatic Dynamic Analysis of Mechanical System) and ATV (ADAMS Tracked Vehicle Toolkit). The virtual pilot-miner moving on straight and swerving at different speeds, weights and positions of centers of mass, and different resistances of the flexible pipe on different terrains are simulated. The kinetic and dynamic characteristics of pilot-miner moving on extremely soft seabed are acquired. Finally, in comparison with measured data from a lake trial in 150-m depth in 2001, the simulation results of the pilot-miner are validated.


The pilot-miner is one of the subsystems of the pilot-mining system of poly-metallic nodule on deep seabed. China's pilot-miner (See Fig.1) with a scale to be one tenth of commerce miner collected successfully the simulated nodules sprinkled on lakebed at 150-m depth in 2001. This test proves that China's pilot-miner development has acquired success. And in the lake trial the nodules were lifted up to the supporting ship on the surface through a flexible pipe by the water pump. The miner in the mining system of poly-metallic nodule consists of a pick-up system, a self-propelled chassis, a crusher, a hydraulic power system, an electronic box, a power distribution box and many pieces of buoyancy material, etc.

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