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Taking on Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE


The Ocean Discovery XPRIZE was announced in December 2015 as a global competition to push the boundaries of technology for ocean exploration. The Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE is sponsored by the Royal Dutch Shell plc and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The competition challenges teams to make wide-area bathymetric maps of the seafloor and obtain high-resolution images of archaeological, biological or geological features using underwater robots without support from a crewed vessel.

Team KUROSHIO was formed to take on the challenges and has started its preparations for the competition. We will take advantage of this exciting opportunity to actively participate in, compete with, and interact with global next-generation exploration communities, jointly with other organizations and businesses. We hope our effort will help us create an ocean-related community in Japan, and contribute to entering into new markets and revitalizing existing markets.

From Team KUROSHIO members

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Today's underwater exploration is supported by vessels operated by a number of highly-skilled crew members, and underwater robots controlled from the vessel. These underwater exploration technologies have been utilized widely in the private sector. Especially in the offshore oil industry, bathymetric mapping of a broad area is necessary to develop an offshore oilfield, meaning the urgent need for faster and lower-cost mapping technologies.


Teams must map a broad area (500 km2) at a resolution of 5 meters (horizontal) and 50 centimeters (vertical).


Teams must complete the operations without any support from a human-operated vessel, even when a robot is launched and recovered.
All the components must fit a 40-ft shipping container.
For details on the time limit, please see below.
Teams must produce a bathymetric map of the area within 48 hours.


7 million US dollars

Round 1 testing

August – September, 2017
Teams must map an area of at least 100 km2 at a 2,000-meter depth, and produce five images of targets within 16 hours.

Round 2 testing

September, 2018
Teams must map an area of at least 250 km2 at a 4,000-meter depth, and produce ten images of targets within 24 hours.

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The "Ocean Discovery XPRIZE" is a three-year competition.
Teams will strive to clear three main hurdles – judging of technical documentation, Round 1 testing, and Round 2 testing.
Our team members are now in preparation for the submission of their technical documentation. They are also carrying out research on experimental elements in order to enhance the reliability of their technologies.

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The team mainly consists of the following young members who have been engaged in research and development of underwater exploration robots.

"Team KUROSHIO" - Board of Directors -

Dr. Takeshi Nakatani (35)

Research Scientist,
Marine Technology and Engineering Center (MARITEC), JAMSTEC

Development and control of underwater robots and autonomous surface vehicles

Dr. Takeshi Ohki (30)

Research Scientist,
Research and Development (R&D) Center for Earthquake and Tsunami (CEAT), JAMSTEC

Mobile robotics, submarine cable systems, and geographic information system

Prof./Dr. Blair Thornton (35)

Associate Professor,
Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo

Ocean Perception Systems

Dr. Yuya Nishida (32)

Project Assistant Prof.,
Frontier Research Academy for Young Researchers, Kyusyu Institute of Technology

Development and control of underwater robots, and image recognition techniques

Also, we are promoting research and development activities jointly with other businesses and research institutes.

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For support and inquiries:

Team KUROSHIO is looking for businesses, organizations, and individuals who will support the team's challenge. Please refer to the following contact information for support and general inquiries.


Takeshi Nakatani
Marine Technology and Engineering Center (MARITEC), JAMSTEC

telephone: +81-46-867-9442

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