21 teams representing 13 countries will be advancing to the semi-finals of the $7M Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE.
According to XPRIZE, this particular competition has a duration of 3 years during which teams from around the world compete against each other while developing advance ocean technologies for rapid, unmanned and high-resolution ocean exploration and discovery. Teams have developed a range of solutions that make use of a range of technologies including gliders and drones, underwater robotic swarms, autonomous underwater vehicles and other types of robots and running these hardware are software that rely on artificial intelligence and massive computing platforms.
According to XPRIZE, there were teams from 25 countries to decide from for the semi-final placements. A panel of independent expert judges chose the semi-finalist teams. Teams that have managed to find a place in semi-finals hail from Canada, China, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE contest was Launched in 2015 and has as its participants teams from universities, non-profits, and startups as well as professional scientists and engineers.
From these 21 teams, up to 10 teams will proceed past Round 1 and will split a $1M milestone prize purse. In Round 2, they will need to operate their entries at a depth of 4,000 meters, aim to map at least 50 per cent of the 500 km2 competition area at five meters resolution, identifying and imaging at least ten archeological, biological or geological features at any depth, all within 24 hours. At the end of the competition, a $4M Grand Prize and $1M Second Place Prize will be awarded to the teams that receive the top scores for demonstrating the highest resolution seafloor mapping, after meeting all minimum requirements for speed, autonomy and depth.
The teams that have made it to the semi-finals are:
- ARGGONAUTS (Karlsruhe, Germany) – Led by Gunnar Brink, the team is creating a swarm of 12 intelligent deep-sea robot drones using insight gained through two previous projects.
- BangaloreRobotics (Bangalore, India) – Led by Venkatesh Gurappa, the International team is developing innovative and low-cost Underwater Swarm AUVs.
- Blue Devil Ocean Engineering – Duke University (Durham, NC, United States) – Led by Martin Brooke, the Duke University team is working with heavy lift aerial drones that drop retrievable diving SONAR pods.
- CFIS (Arnex-sur-Nyon, Switzerland) – Led by Toby Jackson, the team is designing a swarm of underwater robots that use lasers for ocean floor mapping as well as imaging of interesting creatures and formations.
- Eauligo (Nice, France) – Led by Christopher Lewis, the team is developing miniature micro subs that mimic bees and their behavior to map and explore the deep ocean.
- ENVIRODRONE (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) – Led by Ryan Cant, the team is using aerial drones that launch next-gen AUVs.
- Exocetus (Wallingford, CT, United States) – Led by Joe Turner, the team employs several low-cost underwater gliders equipped with side-scanning sonar to map for extended periods of time.
- GEBCO-NF (New Zealand, Global) – Led by GEBCO-Nippon Foundation scholars, the 12 nation team is integrating existing technologies with a new unmanned surface vessel to contribute to comprehensive mapping of the entire ocean floor by 2030.
- PISCES (Portugal) – Led by Nuno Cruz, the team is aggregating Portuguese technologies developed at INESC TEC (Porto) and CINTAL (Algarve) to create the PISCES system that leverages cooperative robotics.
- KUROSHIO (Yokosuka, Japan) – Led by Takeshi Nakatani, the team is integrating technologies owned by Japanese universities, institutes and companies for a unique collaborative approach centered around AUVs.
- Lehigh Tide (Bethlehem, PA, United States) – Led by Matthew Ciolino – The Lehigh University team is creating a cost-effective autonomous underwater vehicle that can accurately scan the ocean.
- Ocean Quest (San Jose, CA, United States) – Led by Danny Kim, the team endeavors to design a marine STEM platform for students worldwide to enable project-based learning with new technology and techniques.
- Oceanzus (Durham, NH, United States) – Led by James Case, the team is creating a continuous operating platform that supports multiple survey assets to realize the mapping goal.
- OD-Africa (Accra, Ghana) – Led by Mark Amo-Boateng, the team is building intelligent low-cost modular AUV/ROV systems to democratize ocean discovery, using advanced artificial intelligence and algorithms to navigate and explore the ocean.
- Orca Robotics (San Diego, CA, United States) – Led by Phillip Rhyner, the team is creating an underwater system that uses phase array radar and computing power to provide results in real time, which is a new use for this approach.
- SubUAS (Piscataway, NJ, United States) – Led by Rutgers professor Javier Diez, the team has created an AI-enabled drone that can fly quickly to remote survey locations, dive into the water and use a second set of propellers to navigate and intelligently explore underwater before flying home for data download, repowering and return flights.
- Tampa Deep-Sea X-plorers (Tampa, FL, United States) – Led by Edward Larson, the team is using existing technology and side scanning sonar on multiple AUVs to fully cover the large mapping area.
- Team Tao (Newcastle, United Kingdom) – Led by Dale Wakeham, the team is developing an autonomous swarm system for rapid surface to deep ocean exploration.
- Texas A&M University Ocean Engineering (College Station, TX, United States) – Led by Dylan Blakeslee and working in partnership with successful alumni of Texas A&M; the University team is using drone ships and AUVs equipped with innovative navigation systems, renewable power generation and chemical sensing technologies to explore remote ocean habitats.
- Virginia DEEP-X — Virginia Tech and Old Dominion University (Virginia, United States) – Led by Dan Stilwell, the team is developing small and low-cost underwater vehicles that operate in coordinated teams.
- X994 (Austin, TX, United States) – Led by David Ryan, the team is working to optimize robotic mapping of the ocean through advancements in software, AI, and data analytics.