A new $10 million XPrize competition wants anyone to be able to control a robot and carry out tasks from 100 kilometres away. Not just that, but untrained users should be able to feel, hear and touch their surroundings too.
This latest ambitious XPrize challenge – the ANA XPrize Avatar Challenge – was launched by the non-profit today at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. It is sponsored by the Japanese airline ANA. Teams should submit their plans to a panel of expert judges by the end of January 2019.
In April 2020 and April 2021, teams will then have to show what their avatars can do with a $1 million prize purse available for the best performers available each year. Then, in October 2021, a bumper $8 million will be up for grabs, with teams tested over a five-day finale.
“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,” says Peter Diamandis, one of the XPrize founders.
Eventually, XPrize hope that the technology developed for the competition will enable people to deploy immediate emergency response in natural disaster scenarios, without needing to send people around the world, or expose them to hazardous environments.
“The idea is that if there was another nuclear disaster like in Fukushima, we could send avatars instead of people,” says Jyotika Virmani, at XPrize.
Previous XPrize challenges have included the $30 million Google Lunar XPrize, which was shelved in January, after no team was able to be the first to put a private rover on the moon.