Sea robots are studying the ocean floor to help save the planet

shell ocean discovery autonomous surface vessel
The GEBCO-NF Alumni team’s unmanned surface vessel. Credit: XPRIZE Anders Jorgensen

Self-driving robot boats and submarines are going to be used more and more to study the ocean floor and help save the planet.

The Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE brought together scientists and engineers from around the world to come up with the best technology to help map the seabed.

To date, more than 80% of the world’s oceans are unmapped, which is a problem as the shape of the seabed affects things like ocean currants and the distribution of marine life.

Knowing more about ocean floor topography could help us clearer understand climate change, prevent natural disasters from destroying homes and give us a better guide to the variety of sea-life beneath the waves.

Team Pisces out testing
Team Pisces testing its technologies. Credit: XPRIZE, Fernando Teixeira

The next phase of sea trials for the unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) was to begin last October, but hurricanes Irma and Maria has forced the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE to change its plans.

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