Gentlerobots, Start Your Engines!

Didn’t get your fill of obscure sports with chessboxing, roshambo, and competitive eating? Then how about Driverless Motorsports, which, like the DARPA Grand Challenge and the Ansari X Prize, seeks to inspire innovation through competition. The first challenge? A race up Pike’s Peak in Colorado on September 23.

Now, they’ve been racing manned vehicles up the 14,000-foot mountain for about a century now, but this would be the first unmanned race. While this is a cool idea, the founders have put the cart before the horse, so to speak. You see, DARPA and the Ansari foundation ponied up $2 million and $10 million, respectively, as a prize. At this time, though, participants in the Pike’s Peak climb “have no reason to expect any prize money.”

While getting up the hill first is an achievement in itself (and bragging rights are nice), nothing motivates like a wad of green. So here’s hoping that Driverless Motorsports gets some sponsors.

In the meantime, would you do something like this merely to be the one to have done it first? How much does a prize purse affect your decision? How much of a cash incentive would you need?