Xprize Ocean Initiative together with Royal Dutch Shell and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have launched a $7 million Shell Ocean Discovery Xprize aimed at rewarding teams that develop marine technology that can be deployed to map the ocean floor as well as locate particular objects through given signals.
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Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, chairman and CEO of Xprize spoke at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting held yesterday in San Francisco, addressing attendees of the 3-year worldwide competition designed to promote ocean technologies for advanced, unmanned seafloor explorations.
“Our oceans cover two-thirds of our planet’s surface and are a crucial global source of food, energy, economic security, and even the air we breathe, yet 95 percent of the deep sea remains a mystery to us,” Diamandis said. “In fact, we have better maps of the surface of Mars than we do of our own seafloor. The Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE will address a critical ocean challenge by accelerating innovation to further explore one of our greatest unexplored frontiers.”
For the 3-year competition, 9 months is set aside to enable willing teams register for the competition; and 12 months is given to the accepted teams to develop technological solutions to stated objectives of the competition; and 18 months is given to undergo two rounds of testing which will be judged by a specialist panel of judges.
Some of the basic objectives of the competition that each team will be expected to meet is mapping the seafloor with a bathymetric equipment made by the team, capturing high-resolution images of a given object in the seafloor, and identifying underwater geological and archeological features. A given team must also be able to demonstrate adequate use of their technologies – capable of being operated from the air or seashore, and at a water depth of about 4,000 meters.
Xprize Ocean Initiative together with Royal Dutch Shell has contributed $6 million for the prize, and NOAA has added another $1 million to make a total of $7 million for the Shell Ocean Discovery Xprize.
“Spurring innovation and creating radical breakthroughs in ocean discovery are what excite us about collaborating with XPRIZE,” said David Schewitz, Shell vice president of geophysics for the Americas. “Shell recognizes the need to leverage the full power of innovation: the capacity for doing things differently and better than before.”
A grand prize of $4 million will be won by the winning team, and $1 million awarded to the team that comes second position. About 10 teams that advance to the second round of the competition will split $1 million prize after meeting certain milestones set for the challenge, and the NOAA $1 million given to the team able to use biological and chemical signals to trace a given object to its location on the seafloor.
Richard Spinrad, chief scientist at NOAA, explained that “The goal of the $1M NOAA bonus prize is to identify technology that can aid in detecting sources of pollution, enable rapid response to leaks and spills, identify hydrothermal vents and methane seeps, as well as track marine life for scientific research and conservation efforts.”
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Teams willing to register for the competition can visit oceandiscovery.xprize.org