I have always been fond of underwater robotics and thought that it might be the hardest environment for robots to perform in. We need to tackle of a multitude of challenges ranging from waterproof hardware to communication through these new mediums. It obviously will not be done in a short span of time and in the midst of drones dominating the headlines and locomotion on rough terrain even quite a distance away, I really wondered when we would start seriously considering underwater as another environment.
In the wake of SpaceX successfully landing its Falcon 9, I actually found something just as exciting that someone like me actually should have found out about much before.
So there is this new cool competition in XPRIZE called the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE. The goal of this competition is to launch entries from shore or air into the competition area to produce:
- high resolution bathymetric map
- images of a specific object
- identify archaeological, biological, or geological features
- track a chemical or biological signal to its source (bonus)
Looking at these four tasks, the first thing that comes into my mind is, “Wow! DARPA-hard!”
This is going to be very interesting to continue to follow. Team registrations are due in June 2016 and regardless of what the outcome of this competition is come December 2018, advances in underwater robotics will be massive.
The massive downside is:
Teams will be responsible for funding their own technology development costs.
Anyone care to find some funding so we can have a go at this? 😉