Machine systems that can mimic the behavior of living plants by making nearly complete copies of themselves using local energy and materials can help address large-scale energy and environmental challenges. These self-replicating systems promise to revolutionize manufacturing and enable large-scale renewable energy production, global environmental remediation and ultimately the long-term exploration of space.
Earthquakes have cost us billions of dollars of damages and millions of lives. Given the massive global sensor networks now in place collecting data, and the near infinite computing power available, it may be possible to predict future earthquakes.
The goal of this prize is to create radical breakthroughs in wireless transmission technologies that will transform the way we collect and distribute energy, dramatically increase the availability of affordable carbon-free energy, and reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. Innovations in this area will expand the supply of clean energy, remove the need for land dedicated to traditional transmission lines, and positively impact global climate change.
Throughout the lifecycle of an article of apparel, opportunities exist to reduce the human or environmental health impacts of the process. Because the apparel industry is so large and touches every inch of the globe, addressing any of the major sources of negative human or environmental externalities would be a win for human and environmental health. First, most fibers and fabrics used in apparel manufacturing have some associated negative environmental impacts. For example, nylon and polyester are made from petrochemicals and are non-biodegradable.
The Internet has made it possible to network a multitude of devices. However, challenges remain in finding affordable and convenient mechanisms to power small wireless electronic devices/sensors over long periods of time in remote locations (e.g. temperature sensors embedded in the walls of buildings). Fuel storage systems and traditional electrochemical batteries are limited by factors such as fuel supply, battery life, and weight.
The best batteries currently offer energy storage densities of 100s of Wh/kg, more than two orders of magnitude below that of liquid fuels. With breakthroughs in higher energy density, lightweight batteries will enable a revolution in electric aircraft, surface vehicles, and robotic applications.
In the U.S., the number of elderly has increased by a factor of 11 in the past century, while the population under 65 years old has only tripled. As a result, there are more and more elderly, but fewer younger adults available to care for them. Assistive technology is crucial for baby boomers who are searching for solutions to help them care for aging parents. With this XPRIZE, robots become accepted as standard members of households, eventually developing into indispensable helpers.
There are nearly six million people living without the use of their legs from paralysis or loss due to infection, injury, disease, post-operative complications, or trauma. Today, their only alternative for mobility is a wheelchair or a walker. There are tens of millions of aged adults whose functional mobility are greatly reduced and may be driven to institutional care as a result.
In a world of ATMs and online banking that can provide reliable and secure records, blood is shed and nations are upended over the simple counting of votes in places ranging from Florida to Tunisia. What if the creation of an accurate, verifiable voting technology could safely increase democracy?
A staggering two billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiency, perhaps the most prevalent, most addressable aspect of world hunger. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals (e.g., iodine, iron, vitamin A) that prevent brain damage and fight disease. A group of Nobel-laureate economists ranked micronutrient interventions as the single most cost-effective way to combat global poverty. What if there was a way to rapidly increase the micronutrient intake in the diets of a billion malnourished children?