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80% of the ocean’s floor is a mystery to us. That’s about to change

PortandTerminal.com, June 3, 2019

Eighty-percent of what the ocean’s floor looks like is a mystery to us. That’s about to change a breakthrough in ocean mapping technology.

A robotic boat and submersible have won the XPRIZE to find the best new technologies to map the seafloor.

Team GEBCO-NF has won first place in the $7 million Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, which aimed to use autonomous vehicles and other technology to map the ocean’s floor. For taking the top prize in the challenge, the team earned $4 million from XPRIZE. 

Currently, only 20% of the world’s sub-surface topography has been resolved to an acceptable level of accuracy.

What lies under our ocean are Grand Canyons and Mount Everests that we don’t even know about.

The surface and underwater team demonstrated their capabilities in a test in the Mediterranean, surveying depths down to 4km deep.

Put together by the international GEBCO-NF Alumni team, the autonomous duo is likely now to play a role in meeting the “Seabed 2030” challenge.

Seabed 2030 is a collaborative project between the Nippon Foundation and GEBCO. It aims to bring together all available bathymetric data to produce the definitive map of the world ocean floor by 2030 and make it available to all. It builds on more than 100 years of GEBCO’s history in global seafloor mapping.

About GEBCO-NF Alumni Team

GEBCO-NF Alumni Team is led by alumni of the Nippon Foundation / GEBCO Ocean Bathymetry training program at the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping of the University of New Hampshire and is being advised by selected GEBCO and industry partners. 

The team is characterized by its diversity, from its global distribution to diverse backgrounds ranging from ocean mapping, hydrography, geology, engineering, boat design, software development, physics and computer science that includes representatives of academic institutions, industry and national hydrographic offices.

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