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Impossible Mining, a company developing an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that uses a pick and place manipulator to harvest battery materials from the deep seabed, announced that it brought in $10.1 million in seed funding.
The company began working on the engineering architecture for its AUV in 2020, and filed its first patents in 2021. Impossible Mining also raised its first funding round in 2021, allowing it to begin work on Proof of Concept for its nodule harvesting and bio-extraction technologies, which it hopes to finish in late 2022.
When finished, Impossible Mining’s AUV will travel up to four-miles deep into the ocean to harvest polymetallic nodules individually. The robot will be equipped with image sensing technology so that it can identify megafauna present on the nodules and leave the ones with megafauna present untouched.
“The US needs independent, secure access to critical battery metals. We are excited to accelerate the production of our deep water robots with this injection of capital, and to prove to both regulators and stakeholders that we can achieve what dredge-based technology can’t – the preservation of the seafloor environment,” Oliver Gunasekara, CEO & co-founder of Impossible Mining, said.
The company’s solution has a low environmental impact as it avoids disturbing nodule fauna, has no significant plume, no return water and leaves no impact on sediment structure or sediment fauna. The solution is also easily scalable by simply adding more robots.
Justin Hamilton led the funding round, which also included participation from a select group of YC investors. Impossible Mining plans to use the funds from the round to develop and test its robotic collections system and continue developing its bio-extraction technology.
“Lithium-ion battery markets will increase tenfold in the next decade, fueled by growth in EVs,” Hamilton said. “The deep seabed contains the largest global resource of battery metals. The Impossible Mining team has demonstrated its robotics technology showing the capabilities for selective pickup, rising to the challenge of accessing these metals in an environmentally responsible way.”
Along with the funding, Impossible Mining announced its key advisors: Bob Galyen, former CTO of CATL, Dan Lankford, former CEO of AT&T Microelectronics, Europe, Justin Manley, an AUV design expert, Simon Segars, former CEO of ARM and former board member of SoftBank and Phil Straw, CEO of SoftIron.