Shell And NOAA Collaborate On Ocean Exploration XPrize

Shell and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced this week the establishment of the Ocean Exploration XPrize (H/T ScienceInsider).

This is the third in a series of five ocean-related XPrizes.  The two previous ocean prizes focused on oil cleanup and ocean health.  There will be two rounds of competition, where teams must develop and launch a system for mapping the ocean with limited human intervention.  Within a set time limit each team will need to produce a bathymetric map, images of a specific object; and identification of geological, archeological, and biological features.  There is also a bonus task (described below).

Shell is fronting most of the $7 million in prize money, with NOAA offering $1 million for the team(s) that successfully identify the source of an established chemical or biological signal.  If no teams manage this feat in the first round (depth of 2,000 meters), the $1 million will be up for grabs in round 2 (depth of 4,000 meters).

The first round is scheduled to start on June 30, 2016, and registration will close on the same day.  Between now and then the competition guidelines will be finalized, and the rules and regulations will be released on May 31.  Teams will need to submit technical documents, and the judges will determine which of those teams will advance to the actual testing in September 2017.  Round Two will take place in 2018.

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