Design a Deep-Sea Treasure

Design a deep-sea treasure to be placed on the seafloor (4000m below the sea surface) for the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE teams to find.

This challenge is closed


This challenge is closed


Challenge Overview


Design an object that XPRIZE will place on the seafloor at 4,000 meters beneath the sea surface as part of a high-tech underwater Treasure Hunt for the Finalist teams in the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE.



The $7 Million Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE is a three-year international competition for innovation in deep-sea technologies to rapidly map the seafloor at a very high resolution and collect high-definition images from the ocean. The success of this prize will allow us to fully explore and map the ocean floor, uncovering our planet's greatest wonder and resource for the first time in human history.

We have nine teams from around the world competing for the final round of the competition and to win this XPRIZE, one of their challenges is a high-tech deep-sea Treasure Hunt – they will have to find an object that XPRIZE puts on the seafloor. The teams will use underwater robots equipped with a wide array of acoustic and optical technologies to achieve this task. We are asking you to help us by designing the object of this high-tech underwater Treasure Hunt.



The First Place Team and overall winner will be awarded the Grand Prize of $2000 and their School will receive a donation of $5000.

The Second and Third Place awards will be made in each of the following four categories:

1. Most Inspiring

2. Most Creative

3. Moonshot (craziest)

4. Most Environmentally Friendly

The Second Place Prize will be awarded to four teams, who will receive $1000 each and their Schools will receive a donation of $2000 each. The Third Place Prize will be awarded to four teams, who will receive $500 each and their Schools will receive a donation of $1000 each.



This competition is open internationally to all students aged 12 to 18 years old that are either enrolled in a school or are homeschooled. Participants can enter as an individual or as a team of up to four students.

Participants who are under the age of 18 must submit a Parent Consent Form. You can access the Parent Consent Form here: Please upload the signed and completed document in the Parent Consent section of the submission form.

Family members of the Judging Panel are not eligible to participate.


Challenge Guidelines


To win this competition, teams have to design an object that will be used as a deep-sea treasure in the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE. Components that teams must take into consideration as they design their deep-sea treasure, including design specifications and information, are below. To win, teams must submit:

  • A 2-3 minute video describing your underwater treasure design;
  • A 500-word maximum description of your design;
  • A drawing or schematic (hand-drawn or digital) of your design.

More details of what to Submit (including formats) are in the ‘How to Submit’ section.


Design theme: Teams are encouraged to incorporate themes of ocean discovery, ocean mythology, innovation, exploration, the XPRIZE logo, your school logo, etc. into the design. Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE and XPRIZE official logos can be found HERE. Teams can submit 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional designs but keep in mind that the winning treasure design will be fabricated as a 3-dimensional object by XPRIZE. The only limits to your design are your own imagination!


Depth: The winning treasure design must be able to withstand the crushing pressures found at 4,000 meters water depth (over 5,600 lbs. per square inch!). This means there should be no hollow air-filled inclusions in the design that can collapse or implode from the pressure. You are encouraged to investigate the affect that high pressure has on materials and designs.


Orientation: Because of the depth and how XPRIZE places the object on the seafloor, the object may land upside down. If your design has a specific orientation, it must be capable of self-righting itself as it is being placed on the seafloor. Keep this in mind when you design the object.


Ocean-Safe: To reduce the impact of the object on the deep-sea environment, the treasure will be made by XPRIZE out of materials that are not harmful to the marine environment or degrade into harmful components. The object should not have design elements that can entangle or harm marine organisms. This includes noise or light pollution which means your design should not have any active lights or sounds. In your design description, please include how your design is not harmful to the ocean.


Production of Object: XPRIZE will be responsible for the production of the object. The final size and weight of the winning treasure design will be determined after the selection to take into consideration operational constraints. If you win, we will discuss with you how the object can be created so it can be shipped to the competition site. XPRIZE retains the right to modify the Grand Prize team's treasure design as necessary to ensure operational integrity and compliance for the purposes of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE competition.


How to Submit

To enter, applicants must submit all of the following:

  1. A drawing or schematic (hand-drawn or digital) uploaded as a .jpg, .png, or .pdf of your design.
  2. 500-word maximum description of your design in English. Please copy and paste your description in the Entry Description section of the submission form.
  3. An original video between 2 - 3 minutes long describing your design. Each video submission should be uploaded to YouTube and the link should be submitted on the HeroX website by or before 11:59 GMT on 5 July 2018. Submissions under or above the set length or submissions in the wrong format will be rejected.

Submissions will be accepted online only through the HeroX website, and must comply with the following requirements:

  • Submission must be original work of Team;
  • Submission must include only content (including any technical information, algorithms, designs, music, audio, visual or illustrative content, including logos, images, graphics, art, or other content, information, or materials protected any intellectual property right) that Team owns or has proper rights to use; if it is in the public domain, then you may use it.
  • Team is required to disclose any purchased or licensed content that is part of a Submission.
  • Submissions must not contain any incomplete, corrupt, damaged, or malicious material;
  • Submissions must not contain material that violates or infringes another’s rights, including but not limited to privacy, copyright, trade secret, patent, trademark, publicity or any intellectual property rights;
  • Submissions must not disparage any XPRIZE Competion sponsor, partner or XPRIZE Competition Team;
  • Submissions must not contain material that is inappropriate, offensive, indecent, obscene, tortious, defamatory, slanderous or libelous and must not contain material that promotes bigotry, racism, hatred or harm against any group or individual or promotes discrimination based on race, gender, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, or age; and
  • Submissions must not contain material that is unlawful, in violation of, or contrary to laws or regulations.



The Judging will take place in two rounds.

The first round will be primarily through the CROWD! Anyone can vote through the HeroX website between 9 - 20 July 2018. The top 16 teams that the crowd has voted on will move on to the second round of Judging.

An additional four wild-card teams will be selected by the XPRIZE Judging Panel for a total of 20 teams who will move on to the second round of Judging. These 20 teams will also receive XPRIZE Swag Bags.


The First Place Team will have the overall highest voted upon design.

The Second and Third Place Teams will be judged in each of the following four categories:

1. Most Inspiring

2. Most Creative

3. Moonshot (craziest)

4. Most Environmentally Friendly


The second round of judging will be by the XPRIZE Judging Panel who will determine the Grand Prize winner and the Second and Third Place winners. The XPRIZE Judging Panel will consist of members of: (i) the independent and expert Judging Panel for the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE; (ii) the elite Scientific Advisory Board for the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE; and, (iii) the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE Core Operations Team. All decisions made by the Judging Panel are final.


All winners will be announced 31 July 2018.


Challenge Updates

Winners Announced!

July 31, 2018, 1:50 p.m. PDT by Sarah Saenz

We are happy to announce the winners of the Design a Deep-Sea Treasure challenge. Congratulations!!!


1st Place & Grand Prize Winner – The XPRIZE Ocean Trophy, UK


2nd Place Winners

Most Inspiring: Deep-Sea Treasure Sphere, US

Most Creative: A Message for Future Generations, Estonia

Moonshot: Hidden Technologies of the Ancient African Empires, Ghana

Most Environmentally Friendly: Odd Fish from the Wooden Barrels, Ukraine


3rd Place Winners

Most Inspiring: A Message for Future Generations, Estonia

Most Creative: Hidden Technologies of the Ancient African Empires, Ghana

Moonshot: Underwater Sputnik, Philippines

Most Environmentally Friendly: A Gouda Idea, US


Thank you and great job to everyone who participated in this challenge! Please continue to follow the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE competition at

Design a Deep-Sea Treasure Public Voting Extended!

July 19, 2018, 11:40 a.m. PDT by Sarah Saenz

Hello Teams,


We have updated the public voting to now end on Monday, 23rd July at 9AM Pacific Time.


Please make sure to get your final votes in before the voting closes at that time.


Thank you,

The Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE Team

8 Hours Remaining to Submit!

July 5, 2018, 8 a.m. PDT by Joeana Lutha Mae Villo

If you're still assembling your submission, you have exactly 8 hours left to complete it!

Here's a Tip: HeroX recommends innovators plan to submit with at least a 3-hour window of time before the true deadline. Last-minute technical problems and unforeseen roadblocks have been the cause of many headaches. Don't let that be you!

Two Day Warning

July 3, 2018, 3 p.m. PDT by Joeana Lutha Mae Villo

This is your official two-day reminder!

That's right, the Design a Deep-Sea Treasure will be closing this coming July 3rd at 6:59 pm  Eastern Time (New York/USA).

Please be sure to complete your submission form well before the exact cut-off time.

At exactly 6:59 pm ET, we can no longer accept new submissions!

Got questions?

Now is the time to speak up! Comment directly on this update with any questions about the submission process and we'll get back to you right away!

Five Days Left to Submit (TIPS)

July 1, 2018, 1 p.m. PDT by Joeana Lutha Mae Villo

We are quickly approaching the July 5th deadline in Design a Deep-Sea Treasure

Here are a couple of last-minute tips for a smooth entry process:

1. Begin your submission process several days before the cutoff time. This allows you to ensure everything you have been working on can be seamlessly integrated into the form.

2. Your submission will not be reviewed until you click the orange "Submit Entry" button at the top of the final review page. Please remember to do this!

3. Review the Challenge Guidelines to ensure your submission is complete. Pay particular attention to the judging criteria which will be the scorecard used to evaluate your entry.

4. Have any questions? Head over to the challenge forum and we would love to help you out.

Thanks so much, and good luck to all!


Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, but it’s quick and easy. Just click the “Join Us” button at the top of the page and follow the instructions to complete your registration. All you need to provide is your name and email address.

If you have a question not answered in the FAQ, we recommend that you post it in the Forum where someone will respond to you. This way, others who may have the same question will be able to see it.

Teams can be comprised of students from multiple schools or even a summer school. Teams have to designate their schools when they register.

The winning team will be responsible for letting XPRIZE know what percentage of the winnings will go to each of their designated schools before the prize is awarded.

Visit the link below to access HeroX's Guige on how to form a team for the challenge:


Yes, the team is responsible for telling us what 'school' they would like the prize money to go to - this can include any official organization or group that you or your team members belong to.