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XPRIZE's $10 Million Telepresence Robot Challenge Is Not Challenging Enough

March 22, 2018 | Telepresence Options


Story and images by IEEE Spectrum

The Avatar XPRIZE is a compelling idea, but it needs to recalibrate in order to significantly advance the technology

At the South by Southwest festival last week, XPRIZE announced the launch of the $10 million ANA Avatar XPRIZE, "a four-year global competition to develop real-life avatars." The idea is to bring together many different kinds of remote robotic technologies to create an easy to use, effective, and immersive remote experience. Challenges like these have proved very effective in the past--DARPA in particular has sponsored massive advances in both self-driving cars and humanoid robots.

Part of the reason that DARPA was able to do this is by carefully asking for what is almost, but not quite, impossible. Or what former DARPA program manager Gill Pratt used to call "DARPA hard." XPRIZE, on the other hand, seems to be asking for the definitely possible, and in some cases, the already achieved.

The $10,000,000 ANA Avatar XPRIZE is a four-year global competition focused on accelerating the integration of several emerging and exponential technologies into a multipurpose avatar system that will enable us to see, hear, touch and interact with physical environments and other people through an integrated robotic device.

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