An illustration of the submersible.
China's unmanned autonomous underwater vehicle "Qianlong-1" has successfully operated for a combined 18.5 hours during two night dives, the State Oceanic Administration said on Monday.
Developed by Chinese scientists, the vehicle is a robot that can travel to a depth of 6,000 meters underwater and is tasked to explore the sea bed and collect hydrological data.
The two dives, the first nighttime missions for the robot, were made on Oct. 8 and 9 and lasted 8.5 and 10 hours respectively, according to the statement.
The administration said "Qianlong-1" had operated smoothly in the eastern Pacific Ocean in three dives that lasted nearly 30 hours in total since the first dive on Oct. 6. The vehicle is on a trial run and marks the first time a Chinese autonomous underwater vehicle has been used for a scientific expedition.
Liu Fanglan, chief scientist with China's 29th oceanic scientific expedition, said that the successful operations so far showed that the vehicle has basically met the goals for trial applications and future improvements will ensure a larger role for it in the country's oceanic scientific expeditions.