71% of the Earth’s surface is water, and most of that consists of oceans. In fact, almost 97% of the world’s water comes from the oceans. Although mankind has sailed across the Earth’s oceans for centuries, a lot of the oceans remain unexplored, particularly under the water on the floor of the ocean.
XPRIZE, in collaboration with Shell, wants to help change that; they’ve announced a new event on Monday, similar to the lunar race that recently obtained a new contestant, where teams will be able to create devices and/or machines capable of exploring the floors of the Earth’s oceans and completing objectives.
The teams will have objectives to meet with their machines, so only the best machines would make it to the top. The objectives are also timed, which means it’ll be very much like a race. Some of these include mapping out the uncharted territories of our ocean floors, capturing images of underwater objects, such as shipwrecks, and identifying features on the ocean floor.
The three-year event will be composed of two rounds – the first will be conducted at about 2,000 meters below the ocean’s surface, and the second will be conducted at about 4,000 meters below the ocean’s surface, and teams will have to launch their machines with limited human intervention from either land or the air.
“The success of this prize will allow us to fully explore and map the ocean floor, and uncover our planets greatest wonder and resource for the benefit of humanity,” the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE Web site notes. “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.”
$7 million dollars in prize money is being ponied up for the teams that are willing to risk it all to explore the depths of the sea, and it will be divvied up between the teams based on objective completion. First place gets $4 million, second place gets $1 million, a milestone prize of an additional $1 million will be split between runner-ups, and another $1 million will be awarded to the team that can identify the source of an established biological or chemical signals.
In encouraging ocean floor exploration, this XPRIZE will help us as a civilization to better understand our plant and what’s beneath our ocean floors.