Group to develop deep-sea vehicle


A group of small factories mainly in Tokyo said Tuesday it has launched a project to build a deep-sea research vehicle that would submerge to depths of roughly 8,000 meters.

The group concluded a contract the same day with the state-run Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology to develop the vehicle, called the Edokko 1, aiming to finish it in about two years.

The privately run Shibaura Institute of Technology and the state-run Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology will help the group in developing the vehicle, it said.

The group plans to hold down development costs to about ¥20 million.

The group said it plans to launch test runs of the vehicle this summer and to complete it in fiscal 2013, which starts in April that year.

Group leader Yukio Sugino, who runs a rubber products factory in Tokyo’s Katsushika Ward, said the team plans to build a research vehicle that can contribute to discovering seabed resources in waters around Japan.

The spherical vehicle, whose size is yet to be decided, will be released from a mother ship and submerge into deep waters with the help of a weight. It is designed to collect mud on the seabed, take 3-D, high-definition footage and surface by cutting off the weight.

If the vehicle is successful in recording images of fish at 8,000 meters below the sea surface, it would be a world record as the existing record is said to be some 7,700 meters, the project group said.