ANA announces US$10 million XPRIZE competition to develop real-life avatars

ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS (ANA) has launched the US$10 million ANA Avatar XPRIZE, a four-year global competition to develop real-life avatars.

The competition to accelerate the development of a multi-purpose avatar system that will enable us to remotely see, hear, and interact with physical environments and other people was launched at this year’s South By Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, in partnership with founder and executive chairman Dr. Peter H. Diamandis.

“As the sole provider of global long-distance physical transportation, the airline industry has long served as the catalyst for global relationships, business, diplomacy, and mutual understanding,” said Shinya Katanozaka, president and CEO of ANA HOLDINGS INC. “However, our ability to provide this service throughout the world is limited by physical infrastructure and current technology. By launching the ANA Avatar XPRIZE, ANA hopes to break through the remaining barriers that exist to bring about an unprecedented era of physical connection, resource sharing, and collaboration for a brighter future for all.”

The deadline for teams to register through the XPRIZE website is October 31, 2018. The winning team of the ANA Avatar XPRIZE will combine state-of-the-art technologies to demonstrate a robotic avatar that allows an untrained operator to complete a diverse series of tasks, from simple to complex, in a physical environment at least 100 km away. Two milestone competitions will take place in April 2020 and April 2021, respectively, during which all teams will compete for a $1 million prize purse each year. The $8 million grand prize will be awarded in October 2021.

The ANA Avatar XPRIZE is the cornerstone of ANA’s Avator Vision, a multi-faceted breakthrough endeavour to advance and pioneer real-world avatar technologies, and a commitment to the “super-smart” society initiative announced in the ANA Group mid-term corporate strategy for FY2018-2022.

Other pillars of the Avator Vision include the Oita Test field – the world’s first avatar test field, in partnership with Oita Prefecture in southern Japan, to boost research and development of existing avatar technologies, with a focus on space exploration; ANA’s crowdfunding platform, WonderFLY, will be leveraged to raise market awareness, participation, and capital for avatar development. Teams participating in the ANA AVATAR XPRIZE and innovators with core avatar technologies are welcome to utilize the platform for the advancement of their respective visions. Avatar-related projects have already been registered and have begun fundraising on WonderFLY; and ANA AVATAR Service Platform which will rapidly release avatar services into the marketplace. Avatar service concepts that are successfully designed, tested, and proven at the ANA AVATAR Oita Test Field will immediately be developed and released to the public via the ANA AVATAR application which is currently under construction. This application will allow anyone in the world to easily connect to a remote avatar and will form the basis for the world’s newest form of physical transportation.

According to press release, ‘With the official release of the ANA AVATAR Vision, ANA will spearhead the avatar initiative to magnify its ability to provide this core service to the entire world and become an airline for all.’

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