Stories tagged X prize


Mission accomplished

Making the impossible, possible - one prize at a time. This is the idea behind the X-prize movement. Flying into space, cleaning up oil spills, landing on the moon, or producing safe, practical cars that get 100 mpg are becoming reality as teams compete to win X-prizes.

To drive innovation, offer the right prize and human nature will do the rest.

Edison 2 wins $5 million with their "Very Light Car"

Learn more about the automotive X-prize winners
Scientific American


Wendy Schmidt oil cleanup X challenge

Cleaning up oil spills costs big money. BP says the Gulf cleanup cost is $8 Billion. Hoping that next time we can do it better, faster, and cheaper, Wendy Schmidt has offered $1.4 Million in prizes to inspire a new generation of innovative solutions.

A $1 Million Prize will be awarded to the team that demonstrates the ability to recover oil on the sea surface at the highest oil recovery rate (ORR) and the highest Recovery Efficiency (RE).

If you are interested click here for the competition rules.

MIT robotic seaswarm vehicles

MIT may have a jump on the competition with their Seaswarm project. Last week they showed off what looked like a solar powered treadmill that lapped up spilled oil. Using GPS and wireless communication, a swarm of these devices autonomously coordinate their movements.

"We envisioned something that would move as a rolling carpet along the water and seamlessly absorb a surface spill," said MIT researcher Assaf Biderman. "This led to the design of a novel marine vehicle -- a simple and lightweight conveyor belt that rolls on the surface of the ocean, adjusting to the waves." Computerworld

They estimate that 5000 of their robotic sea-swarm vehicles could clean up a Gulf sized spill in a month.


Automotive X Prize competition is almost over

I have waited almost two years for this race. What kind of automobiles can qualify to win the $10 million Automotive X Prize?

The Zap Alias seems to be the favorite.

Validation is the final technical event in the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE. Finalists in both the Mainstream and Alternative classes will undergo dynamometer testing under controlled laboratory conditions at Argonne National Lab facilities. The car in each class that exceeds 100 MPGe, meets the emissions and performance requirements, and, in the case of a tie, completes the Combined Performance and Efficiency challenge with the fastest time, will win. The $10 million prize purse will be presented at an Award Ceremony on September 16, in Washington, D.C.

Learn the latest news about the Automotive X Prize

Auto X Prize Blog
Automotive X Prize website



$750,000 prize for moving dirt

NASA is using prize money to create innovative solutions to building a base on the moon. The Regolith Excavation Challenge promotes the development of new technologies to excavate lunar regolith (moving moon dirt). In order to qualify, a team must excavate at least 150kg (330 lbs) of lunar regolith simulant (JSC-1A) within 30 minutes. For the first time in three years, teams took home the prize money.

  • 1st Place, $500,000: Paul's Robotics, Moonraker Robot
    = 439 kg excavated
  • 2nd Place, $150,000: Terra Engineering
    = 270.6 kg excavated
  • 3rd Place, $100,000: Team Braundo
    = 263.75 kg excavated

To learn more use the links on the California Space Education and Workforce Institute website.

$2 million Lunar Lander Challenge finish this week

Stay tuned for more from the NASA Centennial Challenges as the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge wraps up this week (Oct. 26 - 31). The Astronaut Glove Challenge will also take place on November 18-19 in Florida.

Armadillo Aerospace is winning again

Armadillo Aerospace took home $350,000 last year and has already qualified for a million dollars this year. Check out this FAQ page to learn how Armadillo was founded by DOOM and Quake computer game developer, John Carmack. Click this link to see videos, photos, and more about Armadillo Aerospace.


About four years ago, the X Prize Foundation gave a $10 million award to a team of engineers for building the first private, commercial space craft. Today, the foundation has several other contests going, including prizes for gene sequencing, automotive engineering, and lunar landing. Additional prizes are planned for cancer and longevity research.

Many “big science” research efforts are conducted by government agencies or large companies, both of which try to hold costs down by finding the single best approach. The advantage of prize competitions is that they get dozens of creative teams working on a single problems, trying many different approaches at once, without the restrictions of government or corporate bureaucracy.

The idea is starting to catch on. Last year the US government approved the H-prize for developments in hydrogen-based energy. And Sen John McCain
has proposed a $300 million prize for breakthroughs in battery technology.


X Prize winner: Source: rockits gallery
X Prize winner: Source: rockits gallery

Revolution through competition

One way to get something done is to offer a multi-million dollar prize to anyone that will do it. This afternoon I watched live, via the internet, the Lunar Lander Challenge:

A rocket-propelled vehicle with an assigned payload must takeoff vertically, climb to a defined altitude, fly for a pre-determined amount of time…then land vertically on a target that is a fixed distance from the liftoff point. After remaining at this location for a period of time, the vehicle must takeoff, fly for the same amount of time, and land again on its original launch pad.

Live coverage is really exciting because you do not know what might happen. The single contestant, Armadillo Aerospace, with their vehicle named Pixel, broke several records in their attempt to win the $350,000 prize. They executed four flights within the alotted time but were not able to return to the point of origen.

A ten million dollar prize has already been claimed

The event was founded by the creators the Ansari X Prize, the $10 million prize package offered to anyone who could launch a re-usable sub-orbital spacecraft, capable of carrying passengers, twice in a two week period. This prize was won on October 4, 2004 by the Tier One project using the experimental spaceplane SpaceShipOne (the 47th anniversary of the Sputnik 1 launch).

X Prize spinoffs

The success of the X Prize competition has spurred spinoffs that are set up in the same way.

  • M Prize (short for Methuselah Mouse Prize), which is a prize set up by University of Cambridge biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey which will go to the scientific team that successfully extends the life or reverses the aging of mice.
  • Tether Challenge in which teams compete to develop superstrong tethers as a component to space elevators
  • Beam Power Challenge which encourages ideas for transmitting power wirelessly (see also Elevator 2010)
  • Automotive X Prize: design, build and sell super-efficient cars that people want to buy.
  • Rocket Racing League rocket plane race track in the sky

Read more about the X Cup Prize and its history and future,