The recent research and development of a deep sea miner, focussing on its configuration and the software of the control system, was presented together with preliminary test results. In September 2001 the control system of the miner performed as designed, and communicated with the short baseline positioning system, differential global positioning system and navigation compass in the lake test. The operator can surveillance and operate the miner and the pickup device and he can drive the miner according to the planed track using the supervising subsystem onboard of the surface vessel. Artificial laid nodules were collected and lifted to surface successfully.
China Ocean Mineral Resources Association (COMRA) has supported the project of deep-sea mining since 1991. The mining tests with a miner and flexible hose were carried out in 2001 in a lake of 140 meters water depth. The control system of the miner, as developed by the authors, functioned properly during the tests. The control system of the deep sea miner consists of two subsystems, i.e. one is regulating subsystem on the vehicle and another is supervising subsystem onboard the surface vessel. One Industrial Personal Computer (IPC) with Compact Peripheral Common Interface(CPCI), input/output(I/O) board and communication board is used for the underwater regulating subsystem. Working parameters, state of the miner and ambient data were collected by the regulating subsystem. The supervising subsystem consists of an industrial computer with I/O board, communication board, network board, monitors and operating panel. With this supervising subsystem, various parameters of the miner were surveillance, collected, processed and stored. The two subsystems were connected by an umbilical cable for power, data and signal transmission. The operating system is Windows NT. The software for controlling the subsystem was programmed with VC++6.0, and the software for the supervising subsystem was programmed with VB6.0.