Thursday, February 05, 2009

The X-Prize

Sometimes the some of history’s most amazing moments are simply missed, forgotten, or passed over. Few remember when the microchip changed the world or when a global networking of computers decided to call itself the ‘Internet’. One may arrive at the question “Why is that – why do we ignore such moments that will have such an impact on us in the future?” I believe it’s because until a milestone or some step forward directly affects our lives we, as a populous, are happily oblivious. As a society (and once our basic survival needs are met) we tend to focus on the big issues such as if Brittany will take her kids with her on new world tour or lamenting the fact that Jerry Springer is just not as much fun anymore since they toned down all the fighting.

Not that I’m throwing stones. You don’t have to cruise along here on this particular corner of the blogosphere to see that pop culture and Evil Chicken are like this {NOTE: Evil Chicken is now holding up his right hand – the index finger is pressed tightly against his middle digit signifying that there is a close relationship. He is now releasing said gesture and returning his fingers to his wireless keyboard.} I too am swayed by the siren call of mass consumer corporate goodies and bright & shiny things. Anyway, I mention all this in preface to an article that I stumbled across from Wired Magazine’s site (which ROCKS out loud if you happen to be or aspire to become a techno-geek). It is about the Automotive X-Prize. Check it out for yourself here: The goal of this Automotive X-Prize is, “to inspire a new generation of viable, super-efficient vehicles to help break our addiction to oil and stem the effects of climate change. Teams will compete for multi-million-dollar cash prizes by designing and building super-efficient vehicles that will achieve 100 MPG (2.35 L/100 km) that are commercially viable.”

The first X-Prize winner now hangs in the Milestones of Flight gallery of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. It is right between the Spirit of St. Louis and the Bell X-1. Space Ship One won the ten million dollar “Ansari X PRIZE for Suborbital Spaceflight, successfully challenged teams to build private spaceships to open the space frontier.” Now you too can grow up and be an astronaut. Seriously. This Anasari X-Prize was won on 10/4/2004, when “Mike Melvill broke the 100-km (62.5 mi) mark, internationally recognized as the boundary of outer space.”

We did not notice. It didn’t directly affect us. Hey, it’s ok, Judge Judy was on. This next X-Prize, the Automotive one is different and it is as tangible as asking yourself just how much YOU paid at the gas pump the last time you filled your tank. With any luck this will have a direct impact on our lives in the extremely near future. I love the concept of competition and how 25 teams of visionaries from around the world just might present us with something truly revolutionary. Can you imagine a world where we were not so utterly and completely dependent on the whims of madmen, oil barons, status quo automobile manufactures or OPEC?

This concept, the X-Prize Foundation, pleases me to NO END. Big changes can come from the little guy. “Revolution through Competition” is the Foundation’s theme. For more information check them out here:

Best of luck to all the teams and participants in the contest; I am now officially looking forward to triple digit mileage. I believe it can happen, that it can be commercially viable, and that this moment in history, when it happens, will not be passed over or forgotten.

No comments: