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Japan's Deep Sea Exploration Team "Kuroshio" to Challenge International Race

By February 21, 2017 at 3:40 am


An international race in deep-sea exploration is slated for September by an American foundation, etc. competing on how swiftly to study the conditions of the ocean floor. Japan is sending the team Kuroshio membered by Tokyo University, etc. to the competition. The project is an answer to the pressing worldwide demand for technological know-how for a full-scale exploration of sea bottom resources lying several thousand meters deep.

Behind the project is Europe's major oil major Royal Dutch Shell and US private foundation XPRIZE. Participants are to produce a bathymetric chart of an area larger than 100 square meters at the sea bottom 2000 kilometers deep within 16 hours and also to take 5 photographs of crucial points at the ocean floor.

It is not yet revealed at this stage where the race is to take place.

The organizing foundation announced February 16 a total of 21 teams from different parts of the world that had passed the document screening, including Japan's team Kuroshio of Tokyo University, the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding, etc.

The team Kuroshio has two deep sea exploration robots of the identical sizes - 60 cm in diameter, 3 meters long, and 400 kilograms in weight. The robot is cylindrical in shape with a tipped nose and has hydrofoils to stabilize its position. Completely autonomous in its movement, the robot operates a sound locator and a sensor to check the whereabouts of obstacles and the direction of water current.

If placed within the top tens this September, participants will proceed next September to the final round contesting more trying mission farther down below 4000 kilometers deep to draw a bathymetric chart 250+ square meters wide and to produce 10 photographs of key points at the sea bottom.
The winning team will win a prize of 4 million dollars. (Nathan Shiga)

Source: NHK

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