Offshore Industry News

2000 km Under the Ice: AUV Polar Challenges Offers Major Prizes

Be the first to complete a 2000 km continuous mission with an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle under the sea ice and win 500,000 Swiss francs (CH).


The World Climate Research Program (WCRP) and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation (FPA2) are jointly promoting a Polar Challenge, which will reward the first team to complete a 2000 km continuous mission with an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) under the sea ice in the Arctic or Antarctic.

Bonuses can be gained with optional demonstrations. The WCRP-FPA2 Polar Challenge, with prize money totalling 500,000 CH, is a global competition challenging teams to push the boundaries of polar ocean monitoring capabilities.

The guiding rationale of the competition is to promote technological innovation (including, but not limited to, in AUV endurance, positioning, data collection and transmission) towards a future, cost-effective, autonomous and scalable observing network for sea-ice covered regions based on a fleet of such platforms. In this respect, any attempt at completing the challenge should in principle be scalable to the above-envisioned, larger-scale network of an autonomous under-ice observation system, or at least significantly reduce the amount of outstanding innovation needed to make such a system possible.

All prospective competitors MUST submit an application form which will be reviewed by the Polar Challenge Committee. Applications can be submitted anytime during the competition period before a mission attempt, as long as the corresponding prize has not been awarded yet. Late registrations posterior to a team’s mission start will not be considered.

The competition consists of the following challenges:

Main mission (mandatory): 400,000 CHF prize

A continuous 2000 km AUV mission under the sea-ice

Autonomous and accurate navigation

Regular observations of temperature and salinity from the near-surface to 700m

Bonus demonstration 1 (optional): 50,000 CHF prize

Regular observations of sea ice thickness or draft

Bonus demonstration 2 (optional): 50,000 CHF prize

Successful under-ice transmission of position and environmental data via WIS/GTS

The stated amounts may evolve during the course of the competition if additional resources are mobilized to that effect. The organizers intend to hold an award ceremony during which Prizes for any successfully completed challenge tasks will be delivered. For reasons related to contractual arrangements with some of the Challenge’s sponsors, the Prize money associated with any successful mission will not be awarded sooner than 1 Jan 2018, even if any of those missions are validated earlier.

There is no participation fee associated with the Polar Challenge. Competitors are to bear all costs related to their participation in the Challenge, including the mandatory purchase and installation of the mission verification tag.

Prize funds shall be used and invested by the receiving organization and its collaborators to pursue research projects in line with the overall objectives of the Challenge. A research project is scientifically admissible if primarily of non-commercial in nature, and if it further supports the technology developments and implementation of a scalable, cost-effective and autonomous monitoring system for the polar ice-covered regions. All teams agree that accounting and monitoring of research projects funded thus by the prize money may be requested by the Organizers to verify and confirm the allocation and usage of the associated prize funds.

Proposed attempts to the challenge will have to demonstrate a best effort to minimize the impact on the environment. Any aspect of the planned mission that has an unacceptable impact or potential risk on the environment is prohibited.

The Organizers affirm and recognize that during all Challenge operations, the safety and well-being of all participating team members and associated personnel is of the highest priority.

For more, visit the website.

The official address of the Organizers is:
WCRP-FPA2 Polar Challenge
World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) c/o World Meteorological Organization
7 bis, Avenue de la Paix, C.P. 2300
CH-1211 Geneva, Switzerland
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

All correspondence to the Organizers should be directed by email or regular mail to the above address. Communications to the organizers dispatched to any other address than the above will not be considered by the organizers. The official language of the competition is English.

Our Partners

Frontiers in Marine Science

ECO Magazine is a marine science trade publication committed to bringing scientists and professionals the latest ground-breaking research, industry news, and job opportunities from around the world.


8502 SW Kansas Ave
Stuart, FL 34997

Newsletter Signup

The ECO Newsletter is a weekly email featuring the Top 10 stories of the past seven days, providing readers with a convenient way to stay abreast on the latest ocean science and industry news.