XPrize contests are nothing if not examples of big picture thinking. Following multi-million dollar competitions to put private spacecraft on the moon, reimagine C02 and tackle illiteracy in the developing world, the organization has just announced a new initiative to accelerate the development of real-life robotic avatars, which could one day be used to carry out tasks like caregiving or disaster relief from miles away.
Introduced today, the ANA Avatar XPrize is offering US$10 million in prize money to usher in an era where telepresence robots can be used to transplant human skills to any place in the world, at any time.
To claim the $8 million grand prize, the winning team will need to demonstrate a multipurpose robotic avatar that an untrained operator can use to complete various tasks from at least 100 km (62 mi) away. That includes an ability to see, hear, touch and interact with its environment, so that it can effectively assist people regardless of location be it through care-giving, disaster relief, or specialized trade skills for maintenance or repair.
"Our ability to physically experience another geographic location, or to provide on-the-ground assistance where needed, is limited by cost and the simple availability of time," said XPrize Founder and Executive Chairman Peter Diamandis. "The ANA Avatar XPrize can enable creation of an audacious alternative that could bypass these limitations allowing us to more rapidly and efficiently distribute skill and hands-on expertise to distant geographic locations where they are needed, bridging the gap between distance, time and cultures."
The timeline for the ANA Avatar XPrize has the registration deadline listed as October 31, 2018, with competing teams needing to submit a complete competition plan by January 31, 2019. Two milestone competitions will be held in April of 2020 and 2021 with $1 million on offer at each and the $8 million grand prize will be handed out in October 2021. Though as the much-delayed Google Lunar XPrize demonstrates, it bears mentioning that things don't always go to plan.