by AUVSI News
XPRIZE, a non-profit organization that designs and manages public, incentive competitions aimed at finding innovative technologies that can help humanity, has announced the 21 teams that it has chosen to advance in the semifinals of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE competition, which will award a total of $7 million throughout the contest. The three-year global competition, which started in December 2015, seeks to find unmanned and robotic technologies capable of handling tasks involving ocean exploration and discovery. Entries for the competition include gliders, drones, underwater robotic swarms, AUVs, robotics, artificial intelligence and massive computing platforms. The 21 teams picked represent 13 different countries, including the United States, which makes up more than half of the field with 11 teams, as well as countries such as China, France and Ghana. The teams come from a variety of backgrounds, including undergraduate and graduate universities, non-profits, startups, and professional scientists and engineers. “These semifinalist teams are on the cutting-edge, pushing the boundaries in developing deep-sea underwater technologies that will work in the lightless, cold depths to fully map one of our world’s final frontiers like never before,” says the prize lead and senior director with XPRIZE’s Energy and Environment Group, Jyotika Virmani, Ph.D, via press release . “Through the Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, we have an unprecedented opportunity to create next generation tools, technologies and techniques that will illuminate deep-sea wonders and unlock a new era of ocean exploration.” The competition will consist of two rounds. During round 1, teams will be challenged with deploying their entries into the 500 km2 competition area. Once deployed, the teams will have to operate their technologies at a depth of 2,000 meters, and those technologies will be responsible for mapping at least 20 percent of the competition area at five meters resolution, while also identifying and imaging at least five archeological, biological or geological features at any depth, all within a 16-hour timeframe. Up to 10 teams will be selected to advance past round 1, and those teams will split a milestone prize purse worth $1 million. In round 2, the teams will be responsible for the same tasks as round 1, except with higher degrees of difficulty. They will need to operate their entries at a depth of 4,000 meters, map at least 50 percent of the competition area at five meters resolution, while identifying and imaging at least 10 archeological, biological or geological features at any depth, all within a 24-hour timeframe. Following this round of competition, one grand prize worth $4 million will be awarded to the winning team, while the second place team will be awarded a prize of $1 million. The final $1 million of the $7 million total will be awarded to the winner of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) bonus prize competition, which will see 12 teams compete to show that their technology is capable of tracing a biological and chemical signal, in an effort to “sniff out” a specified object in the ocean.
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