A total of 32 teams representing 22 countries entered this contest to use autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), etc., and compete for speed and accuracy in 3D bathymetric mapping of large areas of the ocean floor at 4,000-meter depths and photographing designated targets.

> Finalist Teams Entering Round 2

  • Rules
  • No manned support vessels can be used as motherships for the AUVs, including for their operation and recovery. Also, all of the components of the data-gathering system to be used must fit into one 40 ft. shipping container.
  • Round 1 testing (Nov. 2017 – Feb. 2018)
    A Technology Readiness Test judging each team against 11 key measurement criteria to show their technologies are capable of meeting the requirements for rapid, unmanned and wide-area ocean floor exploration.
  • Round 2 testing (Nov. – Dec. 2018)
    Mapping must be performed over at least 250 km2 of the ocean floor at depths of 4,000 meters within 24 hours. At least ten photographs must be taken of ocean floor targets.
  • Background
  • Ocean exploration today is aided by underwater robots controlled from a mothership on the surface operated by experts. In the oil industry in particular, companies searching the ocean floor for potential oil fields must perform wide-area bathymetric mapping, which presents the need for greater mapping speed at lower cost.
  • Objective
  • 3D bathymetric mapping of 500 km2 of the ocean floor (almost the size of Guam) at a resolution of 5 meters × 0.5 meters or more
  • Total Prize Purse
  • USD 7,000,000

Competition Schedule


December 14

Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE launched
Competition guidelines drafted
Public comments open



Rules and regulations released

September 30

Late registration deadline
32 team entries accepted


Technical documents submission deadline
21 of 32 teams advance



Teams announced for Round 1 testing

Nov. 2017–
Feb. 2018

Round 1 Testing
Technology Readiness Test



Round 1 results announced


Round 2 Testing
Final contest


May 31

Round 2 results and winners announced