The XPRIZE Foundation and All Nippon Airways (ANA) have announced a four-year, $10 million global competition aimed at accelerating the development of a multipurpose avatar system that will enable users to remotely see, hear, touch, and interact with physical environments and other people through an integrated robotic device.
The team that wins the ANA Avatar XPRIZE will use state-of-the-art technologies to create a robotic avatar that enables an untrained operator to complete a series of tasks, from simple to complex, in a physical environment at least a hundred kilometers away. In the future, avatar applications could help provide critical care, deploy immediate emergency response in natural disaster scenarios, and maximize the impact of skill- and knowledge-dependent occupations.
Teams interested in entering the competition must register through the XPRIZE website by October 31 and submit a competition plan to an independent panel of expert judges by January 31, 2019. In April of 2020 and again in 2021, milestone competitions will be held for purse prizes of $1 million, with the $8 million grand prize to be awarded in October 2021. For the first time in an XPRIZE competition, any team that believes it has achieved the competition goals may call for the finals — which will include performance tests based on specific tasks showcasing the application of avatar technologies across several scenarios — to be held early.
"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 chair Peter H. 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."