Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE Finalists Conduct Final Field Tests in Puerto Rico for $1M NOAA Bonus Prize

Three Teams Use Their Technologies To Detect Chemical or Biological
Signals Underwater and Autonomously Track Its Source

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–As the world’s leader in designing and managing incentive competitions
to solve humanity’s grand challenges, XPRIZE today announced that the
three finalist teams competing for the $1M Bonus Prize sponsored by the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in its Shell
Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, have tested their technologies in Ponce, Puerto

The $1M NOAA Bonus Prize is part of the $7M Shell Ocean Discovery
XPRIZE, a three-year global competition challenging teams to advance
ocean technologies for rapid, unmanned and high-resolution ocean
exploration. To win the NOAA portion of the prize, competing teams need
to demonstrate that their technology can identify and track, or “sniff
out,” a specified object in the ocean by tracing a biological or
chemical signal to its source. The development of such technologies can
help detect sources of pollution, identify hydrothermal vents
and methane seeps, as well as track marine life for scientific research
and conservation efforts. The winning devices could also be used to
identify and track signals from sunken vessels including planes, ships,
or submarines in the future.

“The NOAA Bonus Prize teams are developing exciting, pioneering
technologies that will help us uncover the mysteries of the ocean,” said
Jyotika Virmani, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Shell Ocean Discovery
XPRIZE. “Having the opportunity to bring these teams, and their
technologies, to beautiful Puerto Rico as originally planned is a
win-win for everyone involved, and we were delighted to be able to work
with our local partners.”

“XPRIZE represents the rapid scientific progress that can be gained
through successful public-private partnerships,” said United States
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “Moreover, this competition plays a
dual role: potentially providing NOAA with invaluable tools to oversee
the health of our oceans, while also demonstrating the resilience of
local Puerto Rican communities in the aftermath of the tragic hurricanes
of 2017.”

The final field test fulfills XPRIZE’s commitment to Puerto Rico, after
initial plans to host its round one field tests for the Ocean Discovery
XPRIZE were cancelled due to the destruction and devastation of
Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017. Between January 20 to
February 2, the finalist teams showcased their technologies by trying to
detect and track a plume from two sources in a test zone established off
the south coast of Ponce.

“New technologies that can detect and trace chemical and biological
signals in the ocean is another stunning achievement in expanding the
blue economy,” said retired Navy Rear Adm. Timothy Gallaudet, Ph.D.,
acting under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere at NOAA.
“This great public-private partnership supports NOAA’s critical mission
to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.”

For this final field test, XPRIZE partnered with the Government of
Puerto Rico, the Port of Ponce Authority, the University of Puerto Rico
at Mayagüez and its Department of Marine Science in La Parguera, the
United States Coast Guard, the Caribbean Coastal Ocean Observing System
(CARICOOS), Ponce Yacht and Fishing Club, and multiple other government,
nonprofit and commercial organizations to provide additional support
technology, vessels, and logistical assistance.

“We are committed to providing the infrastructure and logistics to
support the demonstration of new and exciting technologies, and at the
same time show the scientific world the many benefits Puerto Rico offers
as an attractive destination for research and innovation,” said Puerto
Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló. “Puerto Rico’s privileged location in
the Caribbean makes it the ideal destination to carry out world-class

The NOAA Bonus Prize finalists who opted to compete for this Prize were
initially chosen by an independent judging
of seven experts as semi-finalists for the Ocean Discovery
in the final round include:

  • BangaloreRobotics
    Bangalore, Karnataka, India) – Led by Dr. Venkatesh
    Gurappa, this international team of students and enthusiasts from
    across the world share the common interest of making the world safe
    for human and other life forms through technology. BangaloreRobotics’s
    goal is to create intelligent and autonomous robots that can replace
    human presence in hazardous areas. The team is developing innovative
    and low-cost Underwater Swarm AUVs.
  • Ocean
    (San Jose, CA, United States) – Led by Danny Kim, Quest
    Institute has a long track record of taking on the most challenging
    endeavors in science and technology for the purposes of education and
    inspiring the next generation of leaders. Quest is looking to innovate
    in the deep oceans arena to help foster not only new technology and
    techniques, but make ocean exploration and education accessible to the
    students around the world. The team endeavors to design a marine STEM
    platform for students worldwide to enable project-based learning with
    new technology and techniques.
  • Tampa
    Deep Sea X-plorers
    (Tampa, FL, United States) – Led by
    Edward Larson, the Tampa Deep-Sea X-plorers are an LLC registered in
    the state of Florida for the purpose of competing in the Shell Ocean
    Discovery XPRIZE. The team seeks to harness the talents and resources
    of Central Florida’s academic and business communities to design and
    build a viable solution to win the competition. The team is using
    existing technology and side scanning sonar on multiple AUVs.

In addition to announcing its field test operations in Puerto Rico,
XPRIZE also formed a new partnership with Ocean
, the seabed survey and ocean exploration company that is
credited for finding ARA San Juan, the Argentine Navy submarine which
was lost on November 15, 2017. The partnership will provide XPRIZE with
the highest-resolution ocean seafloor maps of the competition area.
Combined with data from XPRIZE partner Fugro,
these maps form the baseline against which teams’ technologies will be
judged for the Grand Prize of the Ocean
Discovery XPRIZE

The winners of the NOAA Bonus XPRIZE as well as the Grand Prize
winner(s) of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE will be announced by June

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XPRIZE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the global leader in designing and
implementing innovative competition models to solve the world’s grandest
challenges. Active competitions include the Lunar XPRIZE, the $20M NRG
COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, the $15M Global Learning XPRIZE, the $10M ANA
Avatar XPRIZE, the $7M Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, the $7M Barbara
Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE, and the $5M IBM Watson AI XPRIZE.
For more information, visit


Media Contact:
XPRIZE Communications
Eric Desatnik