All Nippon Airways, a 5-star Japanese Airline, is partnering with XPrize as the sponsor of the latest competition aimed at incentivizing innovation by offering a hefty haul of prize money for the winning teams. XPrize has previously commissioned contests that incentivized space travel, CO2 emissions, and global illiteracy, and the latest iteration of the contest is one that is intended to push the boundaries of innovation even further.
Announced during the festivities at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, XPrize leadership has made it clear that their aim is not to be merely the catalyst for shiny, technically impressive inventions which are limited in a utilitarian sense. The teams who are able to conceive and bring to fruition humanoid avatar robots that will be able to assist in search and rescue and other innovative, in-demand purposes will ultimately be crowned victors. The first-place winner will take home $8 million, with runners up splitting an additional allotment totaling $2 million.
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 Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, founder and CEO of XPrize. 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.
Diamandis has also said that disaster relief in environments which are considered hostile to human aid workers, along with eventual applications in healthcare and administration, would be high-priority uses for the inventions that arise from the latest XPrize competition. He’s very optimistic about the impact that the robotics industry will have on the world in the not-too-distant future.
It's not about avatars replacing humans and their skills. It is about increasing the sphere of influence of humans across the planet, Diamandis said. Over the next 20 years, it will grow into a multibillion-dollar market as more and more consumers use them. And they will entirely change the travel equation.