China tests “underwater helicopter” prototype autonomous submersible vehicle in South China Sea

Chinese researchers have successfully tested a new type of autonomous unmanned submersible vehicle they have dubbed an “underwater helicopter” according to Chinese media outlets today, September 6.

Reports say that tests carried out in the South China Sea successfully trialed take offs, landings, docking on a submarine apron, 360-degree steering, fixed-point hovering, wireless charging, acoustic navigation and tracking, and other functions of the vehicle.

The project partners include Zhejiang University, Chinese Academy of Sciences Shenyang Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Deep Sea Science and Engineering, Nanjing University, and Hehai University, according to the reports.

The underwater helicopter successfully dived to a depth exceeding more than 1,000 meters, China’s Science Times reported.

“The success of this sea trial proves that the underwater helicopter technology is feasible, marking an important milestone in underwater helicopter research, and progress in the development of marine unmanned submersible technology,” the director of the project’s sea trial team, Si Yulin, associate professor at Zhejiang University’s School of Oceanography told Science Times.

The technology is touted as “a new concept in autonomous unmanned submersible vehicles with completely independent intellectual property rights in China,” Science Times said. It can be used for seabed mobile observation, seabed resource exploration, seabed area cruise and detection, underwater pipeline monitoring and maintenance, rescue and salvage, seabed archeology, marine aquaculture, offshore wind power operation and management, and other applications, the report said.

Chinese developed autonomous unmanned submersible "underwater helicopter."
underwater helicopter being tested in South China Sea
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