With so much hype over the "big" contests like the Grand Challenge (getting autonomous vehicles to race across the desert) and the X-Prize (reaching space in a private launch vehicle), some are now wondering if these types of contests should be used more widely to jumpstart certain research initiatives. There's a history here, of course. Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic was based on a similar prize. However, as the article notes, there just aren't that many areas where such prizes really make sense. So far, it seems like some of the new offerings that are coming out, are simply updates on the older awards, rather than any specific new challenge. In some ways, it seems like these prizes only work when they're on challenges that capture the public's imagination.
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