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How strong will the winning effort of the Ocean Discovery X-PRIZE be?

Striving to create solutions for world problems through incentive based competitions, the non-profit foundation XPRIZE announced back in December of 2015 a three year global competition with a prize purse totaling in $7M USD for the sake of pursuing deeper understanding of our oceans. Named The Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, this competition is part of a 10-year XPRIZE Ocean Initiative whose mission is to address critical ocean issues and have committed to launch five multi-million dollar prizes by 2020. Competing teams will perform a series of tasks for two rounds. Judged by an expert panel, the main challenge is to explore the oceans by creating high-resolution bathymetric maps of the seafloor and capturing high resolution images of life and features in the undersea environment. Eligible teams ("Pursuant to the America COMPETES Act, only Teams that: (a) are companies domiciled in the United States of America; or (b) are comprised solely of a single (or multiple) United States citizen(s), shall be eligible to compete for and/or win any portion of the NOAA Bonus Prize.") can enter the additional challenge of detecting and locating anomalies in the water column for specified object or feature of the ocean via its biological or chemical signature tracking.

A common method for detail mapping of the sea floor is via sonar based measurements. Generally, sonar systems aboard ships can map the ocean floor to a resolution of ~100 m in deepest regions (~11000 m depth) and a resolution of ~10 m nearshore (~10 m depth) across a narrow strip below the ship. Thus far only ~7% of the sea floor has been mapped to this resolution, and some very small areas has been mapped to extremely high level detail, of 1 m or less, using the same method. For each XPRIZE competing team, their mappings must have a vertical resolution of 0.5 m and horizontal resolution of 5 m, with a minimum 20% mapping at 2,000 m depth and 50% mapping at 4,000 m depth of competition area, in round one and round two, respectively.

Here is the breakdown of the prizes. Of the entire $7M prize,

i) The two teams with highest scores for the high resolution seafloor mapping and high definition imagery after final round will be awarded Grand Prize. First Place will receive $4M and Second Place $1M. First Place will be awarded $5M if there is no Second Place. ii) A total of $1M will be shared equally between up to the ten teams with highest score for the high resolution seafloor mapping and high definition imagery after first round. iii) Eligible team(s) with successful detection of specified object or feature of the ocean environment by tracking its biological or chemical signature to its source will be awarded the NOAA Bonus Prize of $1M in round one. If no teams win in round one, eligible teams with promising technologies may compete in round 2 for this bonus.

How likely is it for the Grand Prize winning team of the $5M to win also the NOAA Bonus Prize?

For this question to resolve positively, the $5M Grand Prize winning team will also receive the NOAA Bonus Prize either in round one or round two.


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