AsianScientist (Jun. 3, 2019) – Team KUROSHIO, hailing from Yokosuka, Japan, was the runner-up of this year’s Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, a global competition to advance ocean technologies for rapid, unmanned and high-resolution ocean exploration and discovery.
Led by Takeshi Nakatani and Takeshi Ohki, KUROSHIO integrated technologies from their partners to create a surface vessel and software platform that can operate with different autonomous underwater vessels. They won US$1 million in prize money.
By combining an autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) linked to several autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), KUROSHIO was able to map vast areas of the ocean floor at extremely high speeds. The ASVs monitored the position and speed of the submerged AUVs from the ocean surface and relayed the data via satellite to the team’s base on land. The AUVs surveyed the ocean floor along a pre-programmed course and communicated their position via underwater acoustics.
Members of KUROSHIO, who mainly work on underwater exploration robotics, come from the following organizations: the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC); The University of Tokyo; Kyushu Institute of Technology; National Maritime Research Institute; Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co., Ltd.; Nippon Marine Enterprises; KDDI Research; and Yamaha Motor Co.
The grand prize went to GEBCO-NF Alumni, a 14-nation international team based in the United States, which used a robust and low-cost unmanned surface vessel, the SeaKIT, along with a novel cloud-based data processing system, to rapidly visualize the seabed. The winning team received a total of US$4 million.
“Currently, more than 80 percent of the world’s ocean is unmapped, and I’m proud to have worked alongside the people who will change this as a part of this XPRIZE,” said Jyotika Virmani, executive director of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE.
“Our vision is that these new technologies will enable the discovery of new ocean species, underwater resources, geological features, and safer methods of exploring the deep sea, while illuminating the mysteries of the deep and discovering what has remained unknown since the dawn of time.”
To determine the winners, a panel of independent judges reviewed data from field testing conducted in Kalamata, Greece and Ponce, Puerto Rico. In Kalamata, teams had up to 24 hours to map at least 250 km2 of the ocean seafloor at five-meter horizontal resolution or higher.
The results were revealed at an awards ceremony hosted at the world-renowned Oceanographic Museum of Monaco.
Source: XPRIZE; Photo: Team Kuroshio.
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