New $7M Design Challenge Targets Mapping Of The Ocean Floor

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X Prize FoundationOn Monday, December 14th, Peter Diamandis of the X Prize Foundation announced a $7 million global competition challenging teams to push the boundaries of ocean technologies by creating solutions that advance the autonomy, scale, speed, depths and resolution of ocean exploration.

The success of this prize will allow humanity to fully explore and map the ocean floor, and uncover our planet’s greatest wonder and resource for the benefit of all. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s $1 million bonus prize will incentivize teams to develop technologies to detect the source of chemical and biological signals underwater.

“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 yesterday at a keynote address during the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco. Right now, researchers have better maps of Mars than they do of Earth’s seafloor, he added.

To win the Ocean Discovery X Prize, researchers will need to develop an autonomous, relatively fast-moving vehicle that can be launched from the air or shoreline. The vehicle must be equipped with technologies that allow it to create high-resolution maps of the seafloor at depths of about 13,125 feet (4,000 meters). Throughout the competition, the underwater vehicles will also be tasked with creating high-res images of individual objects, including archeological, biological or geological features of the seafloor.

The teams that enter the competition won’t just be competing for a chance to map the world’s oceans; they’ll also be going after some significant cash prizes. The winning team will take home $4 million, and whoever comes in second place will win $1 million. Additional monetary prizes will be awarded to the top 10 teams in the competition, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is offering a $1 million bonus prize to teams that demonstrate technology that uses biological and chemical signals to “sniff out” objects in the ocean.

The NOAA portion of the prize is meant to spur the development of specific technologies that can help detect “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,” Richard Spinrad, chief scientist at NOAA, said in a statement.

For complete details, check out the official competition website at:

Prize Timeline:

Ocean Discovery X Prize Timeline

Team Formation:

Do you have interest in participating in this challenge?

Bellingham Entrepreneurs is facilitating the formation of a team of qualified professionals that wish to go for the prize. If you are interested and believe that you have a skillset that will be of value, please fill out this form.

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