Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE

The $7 Million Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE is a global competition challenging teams to advance deep sea technologies for unmanned and autonomous, fast and high-resolution ocean exploration. The success of this prize will allow humanity to fully explore and map the ocean floor, uncovering our planet’s greatest wonder and resource. Embedded in this is a $1 Million NOAA bonus prize to incentivize teams to develop technologies to detect the source of chemical and biological signals.

The oceans are the last great unexplored territory on earth. This competition seeks to accelerate innovation for the rapid and unmanned exploration of the uncharted deep ocean. By illuminating the most mysterious part of our planet, the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE will provide the tools needed to ignite our imagination and catalyze markets in deep ocean exploration, sustainable resource development, and protection. This competition will benefit humanity by unleashing the unknown potential of our planet.

This XPRIZE took place over two Rounds. Round 1 was a Technology Readiness Test; Round 2 was a real-world test to 4,000m depth. In Round 2, teams had a limited period of time to explore an area of the ocean to produce:

  • A high-resolution map (at least 5m horizontal resolution) of the ocean floor, which is essential for establishing a baseline understanding of the oceans
  • high-definition images of biological, archaeological, and geological features of the ocean environment, which are critical to understanding the oceans and will help inspire the next generation of educators, students, policymakers, and investors to care about ocean discovery, resource development, and protection.

On 31st May 2019, it was announced that the GEBCO-Nippon Foundation Alumni Team had won the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, prevailing against talented teams from around the world to claim the top prize for their entry concept. The award was presented to the team at a ceremony at the Musée Océanographique de Monaco, in the presence of leading international ocean experts, by Anousheh Ansari, CEO of XPRIZE. In light of this, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project and Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE on 31st May 2019, with aims to:

  • Further the combined goals of Seabed 2030 and the long-term impact of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE by supporting and utilizing new and emerging technologies to map the entire sea bed by 2030.
  • Improve the public’s understanding of the value of the oceans generally and to recognize the importance of maps as a baseline for exploration and discovery.
  • Support the outreach and promotion of innovative solutions to ocean grand challenges, solutions that go far beyond current methods. Share scientific and related expertise in the mutual interest of solving grand challenges.