The $7 Million Competition To Map The Ocean Floor Begins

The ocean floor has maintained its mysteries for millennia. Even though humans may know a lot about the Earth, space, and external planets, the water that composes most of our planet has eluded our knowledge base. There’s no better way than a friendly competition with a million dollar reward to encourage public interest in the sciences, technological advancements, and curiosity about our oceans.

Compared to the detailed maps displaying the surface of the Earth, ocean maps are in sore need of an update. Teams of students and professional researchers around the world have eagerly developed UAVs and underwater drones to accomplish the mission.

Hidden Beneath The Surface

Regarding the earth’s oceans and marine life, there is still so much that humans can learn. The XPRIZE Foundation was created to stimulate people to become innovative, explore ideas, and help the progression of technology and society. After much anticipation since 2015, the finalists and location for the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE Foundation competition have been announced.

Eight teams will be competing with one another in an effort to map out the seafloor off of the coast of Kalamata, Greece. The competition injects a new energy into research of the world’s oceans. So much about what humans know regarding the sites of archaeological finds, forms of marine life, and specific geological features are murky.

Race To Capture The Map

The technology that each of the eight teams will use during the competition will be rigorously tested. The desire to push the boundaries of science and technology is intense, as each team will only have 24 hours to complete their goal. A minimum of 100 square miles of ocean floor will have to be successfully canvassed, up to a depth of 13,000 feet.

Unmanned autonomous vessels that are capable of traveling undersea and capturing high-resolution images are a must. If a team is to beat the clock and emerge the victor, they will need reliable technology that can create a map that identifies a minimum of ten specific features. Bragging rights and a four-million-dollar prize will be awarded to the winning team, while second place will be rewarded with one million dollars.

Uncharted Territory No More

The world’s oceans hold a vast amount of untapped resources and information. Emerging technology that can help better chart and study the oceans will be useful for climate change, industry, and preserving life on the planet. Surprisingly, only five percent of the world’s oceans have been fully explored, and understanding the sensitivity of the ocean to incoming cosmic rays would be beneficial.

The continuation of modern human society is dependent on maintaining healthy oceans, monitoring marine life cycles, and reducing greenhouse gasses. Recovery of ancient human artifacts, and reviewing the changing terrain of the oceans at levels where sunlight is non-existent is critical to human advancement. The secrets to life itself, medical advancements, and understanding the severity of human impact on the oceans may be furthered via this competition.