Fugro Supports Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE

Fugro has announced a partnership with the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE to support its global, three-year competition.

The competition encourages development of rapid, unmanned and high resolution ocean mapping technologies and the partnership supports the first round of testing.

Fugro’s role is to provide high resolution deepwater baseline bathymetry data over a 500 km2 competition area.

Fugro will acquire the seafloor data using an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) equipped with sonar-based survey systems. This information will be used to ground-truth the work of 21 semi-finalist teams advancing to Round 1 of the competition.

The challenge for the competing teams is to deploy their inventions to operate at 2,000 meters ocean depth, mapping 20% of the project site at 5.0 meters resolution, and identifying at least five archaeological, biological or geological features, all within a 16-hour timeframe, Fugro explained.

“The semi-finalist teams in the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE are pushing the envelope of deep sea mapping capabilities, and we are delighted to partner with Fugro on this common goal of mapping the world’s oceans,” said Jyotika Virmani, Ph.D., prize lead and senior director of XPRIZE’s Energy and Environment Group. “Fugro’s global subsea experience ensures that we will have baseline maps of the highest standards, against which the judging panel can compare the data collected by competing teams.”

David Millar, Fugro’s director of hydrographic services for the Americas added: “Our partnership with the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE is especially exciting, as the competition could result in game-changing technology that will be for the benefit of industry and our understanding of the world’s oceans.”

In addition to increasing the speeds and methods by which baseline bathymetry could be acquired, the competition offers a special $1 million incentive sponsored by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for systems that can also detect and track biological and chemical signals. Such advancements would improve emergency response and foster the discovery and monitoring of new marine life and underwater communities.

First round testing for semi-finalist teams is scheduled to start in September 2017.

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