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Mar 12, 2018

X Prize announces $10 million competition to spur development of robot avatars

<em>South Korea’s Method-2 walking robot (pictured) is probably a little bigger than the robot avatars the X Prize Foundation has in mind.</em>

Robot avatars have been a sci-fi staple for decades, letting fictional humans remotely carry out delicate and dextrous tasks, from hospital care to mining on the Moon. But, as usual, our imagination outstrips reality. The best commercially available “avatars” are telepresence bots, which are little more than iPads on wheels, while cutting-edge humanoid robots look flashy but struggle to keep their balance. The X Prize Foundation wants to change this, and today, it announced its latest challenge: building “real-world avatars” by 2021.

As per the foundation’s modus operandi, the goal here is to spur development by offering teams cash prizes. Researchers will sign up to enter the prize and develop avatars (the deadline for entry is October...

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