American-Made Challenges

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Ocean Observing Prize

Integrate marine renewable energy with ocean observation platforms, to revolutionize data collection needed to understand and map the ocean.

stage:
Deadline to have NSWCCD CRADA executed
prize:
$3 million in total prizes

Overview

Challenge Overview

Ocean Observing Prize

The Powering the Blue Economy™: Ocean Observing Prize challenges innovators to integrate marine renewable energy with ocean observation platforms, ultimately revolutionizing our ability to collect the data needed to understand, map, and monitor the ocean.

This joint prize between the Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) at the U.S. Department of Energy and NOAA’s Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) Office seeks to develop new technologies that can help fill the data gaps making it difficult to realize the full potential of the blue economy. The Ocean Observing Prize includes a series of competitions, with millions of dollars in awards, to encourage rapid innovation in the fields of marine energy and ocean observations. The prize began with the  DISCOVER Competition and is followed by the DEVELOP Competition. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are supporting DOE and NOAA on the development and administration of the prize.

 

 

PRIZE COMPETITIONS

The Ocean Observing Prize consists of two competitions designed to incentivize accelerated innovation in marine energy and ocean observations. The first competition, the DISCOVER Competition, which is now closed, solicited novel concepts that integrate ocean observing technologies with marine energy systems to address end-user needs across five broad themes: (1) Unmanned Vehicles; (2) Communications and Underwater Navigation; (3) Extreme Environments; (4) Buoys, Floats, and Tags; and (5) Blue Sea Ideas (i.e., other novel themes not listed). The second competition, the DEVELOP Competition, now ongoing, is centered on a single theme, Buoys and Autonomous Systems, with a focus on hurricane monitoring. The DEVELOP Competition challenges contestants to develop their ideas into a functioning prototype through three contests: the DESIGN Contest, BUILD Contest, and SPLASH Contest.

 

 

 

$3 MILLION IN CASH PRIZES AND IN-KIND AWARDS

Together, the DISCOVER and DEVELOP Competitions will award up to $3 million in cash prizes, as well as in-kind awards, such as access to facilities, specialized equipment, and subject matter experts.

 

PRIZE GOALS

The purpose of this prize is to:

  • Enable collection of valuable new data. Proposed innovations should increase the spatial coverage, temporal resolution, and/or types of ocean and atmospheric variables that can be observed, collected, processed, and transmitted leading to improved understanding, monitoring, and management of the ocean.
  • Generate sufficient power from co-located marine resources. Solutions must be able to generate sufficient power to meet the energy needs of end users from the ocean observing community and prove the viability of marine energy to power ocean observation systems.
  • Accelerate commercialization of marine energy systems. Traditional development timelines of marine energy devices for the electrical grid can take many years to design, build, and test. By working at smaller scales and addressing ocean observing system energy needs, marine energy may find a faster path to commercialization.
  • Grow a diverse community of innovators. This prize will help bring new innovators into the marine energy and ocean observing space. It will also help form new partnerships and collaborations between industry, academia, and government to create innovative ocean observing technologies powered by marine energy.
Guidelines

Challenge Guidelines

Who can participate?

Please review the official Rules Document for the application process and instructions for competing.

If you want to subscribe to updates on the prize or have any questions, you may use the contact feature on the HeroX platform, or message us directly.

If you’re not interested in competing but want to help with the Prize in other ways, please feel free to contact us.

 

Timeline
Updates 26

Challenge Updates

Updated BUILD Contest Rules Document

July 16, 2021, 8:33 a.m. PDT by Amanda Morton

Attention Innovators,

Please be advised that the Ocean Observing Prize Official BUILD Rules Document has been updated to provide more clarity around the DPPMs, extend the deadline to request a second DPPM, and remove the field-of-view constraints for the DPPM.  Additionally, we've updated the DPPM Consultations resource to also reflect these slight modifications to the rules and include questions from the second round of DPPM Consultations.

- The Ocean Observing Prize Team


Rules Update, DPPM Clarifications, and more...

June 10, 2021, 3:07 p.m. PDT by Amanda Morton

Attention Innovators,

Please be advised that the official Ocean Observing Prize Official BUILD Rules Document has been updated to remove the downward-facing constraint of the DPPM in Appendix E and provide more clarity.  The CAD drawings have been slightly modified to account for these revisions. 

We've uploaded a new version of the Q&A Responses from the May 10, 2021 webinar. This document now holds all questions asked live during the webinar as well as a few submitted by email afterwards.

Additionally, we've added a resource which answers questions that arose from the DPPM Consultations.

Lastly, please remember to check the FAQ for responses to commonly asked questions.

- The Ocean Observing Prize Team


Updated BUILD Contest Rules Document

May 21, 2021, 2:02 p.m. PDT by Amanda Morton

Attention Innovators,

Please be advised that the official Ocean Observing Prize Rules Document has been modified to update the DPPM mounting points and measurements so that they now match the CAD file. Please review these changes, now available in the updated  BUILD rules document

- The Ocean Observing Prize Team


DESIGN Contest Winner Announcement

March 24, 2021, 7:19 p.m. PDT by Libby Arnold

Hello innovators,

The Ocean Observing Prize team is hard at work reviewing your applications for the DESIGN Contest, and we are looking forward to announcing the winners in mid-April. Until then, stay up-to-date with our major announcements on the Water Power Technologies Office's Water Wire newsletter and the American-Made Challenges Twitter.

As always reach out with any questions, and we can’t wait to celebrate your accomplishments as we move into the BUILD Contest. Stay tuned!

-The Ocean Observing Prize Team


Water Power Technologies Office Stakeholder Webinar

Feb. 23, 2021, 9 a.m. PST by Jenny Wiegele

Hi Innovators, 

Join the Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office on March 1, from 3:30–5:00 p.m. ET, for the semiannual stakeholder webinar, where staff will discuss some of the most pressing changes affecting water power R&D in 2021. Led by Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Power and WPTO Director Alejandro Moreno, the webinar will feature program managers and technical leads from across WPTO. Program representatives will provide an update on the administration transition and FY21 budget, highlight recent announcements and publications, share project updates including prize milestones and awards, and discuss upcoming priorities. The presentation will close with Q&A.

This webinar is one of WPTO’s many efforts to improve transparency and engagement with stakeholders in the hydropower and marine energy industries. Register for the webinar and email questions ahead of time .

- The Ocean Observing Prize Team


Forum 44
Teams 562
Entries
Resources
FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

No. Competitors progressing into the BUILD Contest are limited to one system design based on their submission in the DESIGN Contest.

The competition is open only to winning teams of the Ocean Observing Prize DESIGN Contest as named by DOE. 

DOE employees, employees of sponsoring organizations, members of their immediate families (i.e., spouses, children, siblings, or parents), and persons living in the same household as such persons, whether or not related, are not eligible to participate in the prize. Federal entities and federal employees, acting within the scope of their employment, are also not eligible to participate in any portion of the prize. DOE national laboratory employees cannot compete in any stage of the prize. Individuals working under a competing entity may participate if they are legally allowed to work in the United States.

The prize is now closed to new submissions, but please continue to follow us for more updates! The Ocean Observing Prize is designed to be repeatable, and we anticipate there will be more opportunities to participate in the future. 

Department of Energy employees, employees of sponsoring organizations, members of their immediate families (i.e. spouses, children, siblings, or parents), and persons living in the same household as such persons, whether or not related, are not eligible to participate in this prize. Federal entities and federal employees, acting within the scope of their employment, are also not eligible to participate in any portion of this prize. DOE national laboratory employees cannot participate in any stage of the prize.

Please see the Official Prize Rules for more details. If you are interested in getting involved with the competition in a different capacity, we invite you to drop us a line!

Yes, but it’s quick and easy. Just click the “Accept Challenge” button on this page and follow the instructions to complete your registration. All you need to provide is your name and email address.

The Prize Administrator screens all completed submissions and, in consultation with DOE and NOAA, assigns subject matter expert reviewers to independently score the content of each submission. The reviewers will be composed of Federal and non-Federal subject matter experts with expertise in areas relevant to the competition. The Director of the DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office is the final judge of the competition and will make final award determinations. Subject matter expert reviewers’ scores and the interview findings (if applicable) will be taken into account by the final judge for award determinations.

There shall be no batteries or other energy storage devices except those specified in the competition rules apart from small primary batteries integrated into clocks/global positioning system (GPS)/memory assemblies. If there are any questions on whether a given battery is allowable, please email the prize administration team at OceanObserving@nrel.gov.

Designs that require direct contact with the bottom of the tank or the seafloor are not within the scope of this prize.  If there are any questions on whether a given architecture is allowable, please email the prize administration team at OceanObserving@nrel.gov

To qualify for the prize, designs must be capable of harvesting energy from the surrounding wave field.  If there are any questions on whether a given energy harvesting is allowable, please email the prize administration team at OceanObserving@nrel.gov

The beam length is the measurement of the widest part of the system, orthogonal to the axis aligned by the direction of travel.

No, if you are a contest winner you are receiving the prize for meeting or exceeding the contest goals.

The rules document details which parts of your submission will be made public. For the items that will not be made public, competitors who do not want the Technical Submission or other documents to be made public will need to mark them according to the instructions Appendix A.

Yes! We encourage you to promote your concept via social media channels, media outlets, and to any potential partners.

The Powering the Blue Economy: Ocean Observing Prize is led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office in close coordination with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and supported by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

No, competitors are only allowed on campus between 0800 and 1800 local time.

No photography or video recording by any competitors or visitors will be allowed, and only approved personal electronic devices will be allowed on site. (see Appendix F: Carderock Access Forms, Electronic Devices Permissions)

No, competitors will be able to dive in the tank, even if they have a dive certification. Only facility personnel will be able to dive in the tank.

No, for personal safety only facility personnel will be able to handle the systems once they are in the water.

No, for personal safety only facility personnel will be able to handle the systems once they are in the water.

Personal flotation devices must be worn at all times when operating outside of safety rails in the test basins. United States Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices are supplied by NSWCCD facilities personnel. 

Competitors must bring their own steel toe boots or shoes and respirators. The facility will provide hard hats, personal floatation devices, and nitrile gloves. If competitors would rather use utility gloves, they must bring their own.

Teams are responsible for the transport of their marine energy device and all necessary tools and equipment, as well as any damage to or loss of such items.

Neither internet access nor any other wireless network access will be provided by Carderock. 

Teams must supply their own equipment to establish and demonstrate wireless communication with their system. All portable electronic devices (e.g. computers, tablets, hotspots) that will enter the test site must be approved ahead of time (see Appendix F: Carderock Access Forms, Electronic Devices Permissions)

Due to the overhead structure of the wave basin, satellite telemetry is difficult if not impossible. For the maneuvering mission detailed in Appendix M of the Official Rules Document, all waypoints and vehicle behaviors are expected to be executed without GPS support and without operator intervention

There are no hotels within walking distance of the test site. Though there is a public transit route from the Bethesda Metro station to the test facility, given the strict hours of the test facility and the likelihood for a need to transport bulky items, competitors are encouraged to rent a vehicle for convenient transit between hotels and the test facility. Parking is available, and visitors may generally park in any unmarked spaces as well as spaces marked as visitor parking. There are a limited number of spaces reserved for handicap parking. Do not park in any numbered or otherwise marked reserved spaces.

Three areas near the test site to consider for lodging are Tyson’s Corner, Chevy Chase, and Georgetown. Please note that traffic in the Washington, D.C., area can significantly increase transit times during peak rush hour (7:30-9 a.m. and 3-5 p.m. local time).

Please direct all your competition related questions to OceanObserving@nrel.gov. 

Please direct all your competition related questions to OceanObserving@nrel.gov. 

We’ll do our best to work with competitors to ensure everyone gets time in the tank. If a team’s system gets damaged in transit you must let the Prize Administration team know as soon as possible and we’ll do our best to adjust the schedule to allow for repairs, though this is not guaranteed.

Competitors retain the intellectual property for their submission, and the Ocean Observing Prize team encourages innovators to create businesses around their technologies. The rules document details which parts of your submission will be made public, but as all materials submitted become DOE records, they are potentially subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

While DOE will make a reasonable effort to protect these materials from public disclosure, competitors who would like to ensure any elements of their submission will be withheld in the event of a FOIA request must mark their materials according to the instructions in Appendix A.

You will only be allowed to visit specific parts of the facility directly related to the testing for the BUILD Contest. Tours of other parts of the campus may be set up for interested parties.

To access the base, all team members must complete the necessary forms listed in Appendix F (Personnel Access Form, Foreign National Access Form, and Electronic Devices Permissions Form) at least one month prior to the BUILD Contest. Teams may change on-site team members throughout the four days of testing, but due to facility occupancy restrictions, only three team members will be allowed on site at the same time.

With proper authorization, yes; though it does require more time to process base access applications for foreign nationals. Please see Appendix F to access the Foreign National Visit Request Form and submit this form as soon as possible. 

Yes, a staff member of the facility will manually connect the two bodies if they are unable to dock after the allotted time.

The intent of providing teams with the option to tether is to provide a safeguard against damage the device might sustain by drifting and colliding with the wall of the tank. The elastic tether designed, provided, and attached by Carderock will tether the device to the model towing carriage of the MASK basin (see Appendix B in the Build Contest Official Rules Document). The carriage, operated by Carderock staff, will follow your device as it drifts, leaving the tether slack. As the device nears to the edges of the tank, the tether may be used to reposition the device to prevent collision with the basin.  Energy harvesting performance will not be counted for the durations when the tether is under tension and the device is being repositioned. Remember, tethering is optional. If a team chooses to tether their system, it is mandatory to use the tethering system provided by Carderock. Teams should focus on designing the best system possible for the open ocean mission.