Nov 06 2022

Seventeen finalist teams competed at finals testing event in the greater Los Angeles area to demonstrate human-operated robotic avatar systems performing tasks remotely

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Nov. 5, 2022)—XPRIZE, the world’s leader in designing and operating incentive competitions to solve humanity’s greatest challenges, has announced NimbRo of Bonn, Germany, as the $5M grand-prize-winning team in the four-year global ANA AVATAR XPRIZE. NimbRo’s technology was selected by a panel of judges at the conclusion of a public testing event at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center in Calif. on November 5. 

In addition, Pollen Robotics of Bordeaux, France and Team Northeastern of Boston, Mass. were announced as the second and third-prize winners, claiming $2M and $1M, respectively. The winning teams integrated multiple emerging technologies to develop a physical robotic avatar system, through which its operator can see, hear, and interact with objects in a remote environment, transporting the operator as if they were truly there.

Sponsored by All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s largest and five-star airline for nine consecutive years, the $10M ANA Avatar XPRIZE competition called upon teams to develop physical, human-operated robotic avatar systems that can execute tasks and replicate a person’s senses, actions, and presence to a remote location in real time. These avatars, also referred to as telepresence systems, enable people to apply their skills in critical situations over great physical distances. 

Out of the 99 teams from around the world who registered in 2018, 17 teams from 10 countries were selected to compete in front of a live audience of more than 2,100 people over the two-day event. The physical robotic avatar technologies were tested on specific tasks that evaluated their ability to interact with humans, explore new environments, and employ specialized skills. The event was also livestreamed, allowing thousands to share in the advancements in this emerging technology area.

“NimbRo’s work demonstrates the remarkable potential of avatar technology to transcend time and distance and help address urgent human challenges, from health care access to disaster relief,” said Anousheh Ansari, CEO of XPRIZE. “The final testing event was an exciting opportunity to share the power of telepresence with thousands of people in-person and around the world. We are grateful to all the participating teams for their impressive work and their efforts to boldly push technological boundaries.”

“The ANA Avatar XPRIZE demonstrates the power of avatar technology and its ability to strengthen our society and improve lives,” said Junko Yazawa, Executive Vice President of ANA. “These innovations, exemplified by the work of NimbRo and the other finalists, are a major step forward toward our goal of creating a more connected world.”

The ranking after the final day of testing of the Finalist teams is as follows:

“Telepresence and avatar technology will be an essential part of human progress in the decades to come,” said David Locke, Executive Director, ANA Avatar XPRIZE. “Through the ANA Avatar XPRIZE, what we saw these past few days was a leap-ahead in this technology area that will make a difference in how people connect in the future. XPRIZE is proud to be a driving force behind these remarkable innovations.”

The Long Beach gathering was XPRIZE’s first public testing event since the Ansari XPRIZE in 2004.