A four-year competition to help unravel the mysteries of the deep sea has drawn to a close, with the international team behind a new kind of unmanned surface vessel taking top honors. The Shell Ocean Discovery XPrize drew plenty of interesting ideas in its bid to inspire new solutions for mapping the world's oceans, but it was team GEBCO-NF that triumphed, with its vehicle designed to autonomously survey the seafloor over long periods of time.
"We have better maps of the surface of Mars than we do of our own seafloor," said XPrize CEO Peter Diamandis when launching the Shell Ocean Discovery XPrize in 2015.
According to executive director of the competition Jyotika Virmani, around 80 percent of the world's oceans remain unmapped today. The idea behind the competition was to encourage new technological solutions that help us gain a clearer picture of what lies beneath the surface. This in turn could lead to the discovery of new marine species, further our understanding of underwater resources as well as the ocean's geological features.