Ocean Mapping: Fugro Partner with Shell on X-Prize

Fugro will use its deepwater survey expertise to support the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE with high resolution bathymetry data of the competition area. (Image: Fugro)

Posted by Greg Trauthwein

Fugro will partner with the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE to
support first round testing of the global, three-year
competition, which incentivizes development of rapid, unmanned
and high resolution ocean mapping technologies.

Fugro's role is to provide high resolution deepwater baseline
bathymetry data over a 500 sq. km competition area. The company
has recently collected more than 1 million sq. km of high
resolution bathymetry data per year globally, predominantly in
water depths greater than 750 meters.

Fugro will acquire the seafloor data using a deepwater 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.

"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."

Given that 85% of the world's oceans is yet to be mapped using
modern survey techniques, there is a lot of seabed yet to cover.
"Fugro is working on a number of fronts to help close this data
gap," said David Millar, Fugro's director of hydrographic
services for the Americas. "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 $1M 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

First round testing for semi-finalist teams is scheduled to
commence in September 2017. Fugro will acquire, process and
deliver the high resolution baseline datasets in advance.

Feb 17, 2017

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