UK Subsea Engineers Advance to Ocean Discovery XPRIZE Semi-Finals

A team of subsea engineering experts representing the UK has advanced to the semi-finals in the $7-million Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE.

The XPRIZE is an international competition which aims to create the next generation tools, technologies and techniques for rapid, unmanned ocean exploration and discovery.

Teams are challenged to design and build new ways to map the ocean floor at depths and a resolution never achieved before using advanced deep-sea technologies for autonomous, fast and high-resolution ocean exploration.

Based in the National Centre for Subsea and Offshore Engineering in Newcastle, Team Tao is the only UK team to make the semi-final and will compete against 21 teams from 13 countries vying for their share of the $7-million prize purse.

Team Tao brings together industry experts from Tyneside-based subsea engineering specialist Soil Machine Dynamics Ltd (SMD) and Newcastle University who are together developing an autonomous swarm system for rapid surface to deep ocean exploration.

Team Tao operates with a core team of four engineering experts from SMD, Newcastle University and CRRC TEC Ltd and is backed by a panel of seven industry and academic advisors. Their approach to the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE involves international collaboration through partnerships with companies in China, the US and France, as well as research and innovation experts at Newcastle University.

The Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE semi-finalists now move forward to Round 1 testing starting in September 2017, this will aim to reach depths deeper than the Grand Canyon and map an area that is nearly five times the area of Paris.

Qualifying teams will then move on to Round 2 in September 2018 undergoing deep-sea tests challenging the teams to operate their solutions at depths of 4,000m. The winning team will be announced in December 2018.

The competition is part of XPRIZE’s 10-year Ocean Initiative – a commitment made to launch five multi-million dollar prizes by 2020 to address critical ocean challenges and inspire innovation that helps create an ocean that is healthy, valued and understood.

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