DARPA Concludes Competition to Predict Ocean Float Destinations; John Waterston Quoted

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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) held a challenge to develop algorithms for predicting where an object floating on the ocean will travel based on environmental factors.

DARPA said Monday that its Forecasting Floats in Turbulence challenge studied how the convergence between the ocean’s currents, waves and winds affects floating objects.

The challenge supports the larger Ocean of Things program, which delivers maritime situational awareness via low-cost distributed drifters on the water.

Thirty-two participants proposed algorithms and other approaches to determine where 90 basketball-sized Sofar Spotter drifters would move over a span of 10 days in the Atlantic. The algorithms build on data on the drifters’ GPS coordinates from the past 20 days before the challenge.

Second Sight Predictions won $25,000 as the competition’s first-placer. Deltares won $15,000 as the second-placer and the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies received $10,000 for landing third place.

“The challenge has shown that we’ve just scratched the surface in understanding the complex turbulence at the convergence of air and sea, and we hope to spur further research into making models more accurate,” said John Waterston, who manages the Ocean of Things program from DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office.

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