Prize Money

Discussion in 'Aircraft Design / Aerodynamics / New Technology' started by jedi, Jan 27, 2018.

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  1. Jan 27, 2018 #1

    jedi

    jedi

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    The current Boeing "Go Fly" contest, http://goflyprize.com/, has got me thinking about the value of such programs.

    While the first New York to Paris nonstop flight of 1927 was an obvious boost to the interest in aviation it did little to advance the technology involved.

    The man powered aircraft challenges demonstrated some interesting structures and capabilities but have done relatively little to advance aviation IMHO.

    The "GO FLY" challenge will no doubt create considerable interest and encourage many proposals but the contest constraints will direct those efforts in a direction that may not be the optimum solution to the most promising and productive solutions to the real life problems of commuters.

    Other recent prizes have gone to a team winning with a Cessna 172 and another to a team producing a modified version of a production glider.

    I get that the goal is not to create a production mass produced product but I also question how much technology is advanced by these programs.

    I have come to the conclusion that technology would be developed more effectively by working to solve real world problems.

    The typical winning solution is not the most technological advanced solution but the least advanced solution to solve the constraints of the contest.

    This forces a requirement for a "good contest" to have good constraints. It is extremely difficult to write good constraints for a problem/solution proposal when the full extent of the problem is open ended and the set of possible solutions is infinite. The result is invariably unnecessary constraints that complicate and limit the solution set to something less than optimal.

    I see this as an issue in the "Go Fly" competition. The real "outside the box" solutions would not have a chance of selection as a Phase I winner as they would be judged as not possible or not practical.

    I would like to know what comments others may have. Would a design using other than currently available powerplants and rotating componenets such as propellers have a chance at selection?

    If a proposal was for a 400 pound gross weight bee, dragon fly, pterosaur*, song bird or humming bird would it have a chance at selection? Is it reasonable to write such a proposal?

    * Pterosaurs were a highly successful group of carnivorous reptiles with well‐developed wings and an excellent flight ability. Quote direct from the internet http://www.els.net/WileyCDA/ElsArticle/refId-a0001546.html
     
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  2. Jan 27, 2018 #2

    BJC

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    It seems likely that the widespread interest generated led to lots of innovation, although more of it likely came from trial and error than from a more scientific effort.

    Agree, mostly a gut need to react to mythology.

    Historically, technology efficiently advances during warfare and period of unfettered capitalism. Neither conition exists today.

    Anyone here remember the Aircraft Spruce sponsored Scratchbuild Design Contest winners?


    BJC
     
  3. Jan 27, 2018 #3

    RonL

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    I almost entered, but after careful considerations I changed my mind.
    My first thought about "safe and easy to fly for both expert and novice" was a belief that this is impossible, but later had a change of mind.

    400 pounds gross all up weight is about the best minimum start weight.

    Disruptive technology is the key that is being looked for (in my opinion) and my thoughts go to a system of electric power that has a design of recharging batteries at almost the same rate they are supplying power.
    My ideas are not designed or developed to a point of meeting the timeline imposed by the guidelines.

    80 pounds using conventional wisdom has very little chance because of the time needed to be in the air.

    A hint to my thoughts is a complete power system, integrated and confined inside the rotor blades and hub structure,

    Having power to compensate for unexpected flight and air conditions, will in my mind be a major factor in anything being safe for a novice or expert.
    Just a few of my thoughts.

    RonL
     
  4. Jan 27, 2018 #4

    mcrae0104

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    The value of this particular program is a little media splash for Boeing. $2M is pretty cheap publicity for a gargantuan outfit like Boeing.

    Taking a less skeptical perspective, though, it's their money, so I have no problem how they set up the constraints (or lack of them) and I don't mind if it's not solving a "real-world" problem. Let them have at it. I just hope the winner is roadable.
     
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  5. Jan 27, 2018 #5

    jedi

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    Me too and I will raise you to affordable. Thanks all for your comments.
     
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  6. Jan 27, 2018 #6

    cluttonfred

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    I remember that the Acrolite biplane won, not sure about the other competitors. It would be great to have a thread dedicated to design contests where you could fine the entrants and results from each one.
     
  7. Jan 27, 2018 #7

    BJC

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    Yes, it won, but how many have been built?


    BJC
     
  8. Jan 28, 2018 #8

    Victor Bravo

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    Maybe look at it from a slightly different perspective. There is indeed a "prize" and large amounts of "prize money" for real-world innovations and new technologies that actually do something that advances the state of the art.

    We just don't call it by that name "prize money", we call it profit and being the market leader. Henry Ford didn't compete for some prize offered by a big company, he competed for a prize 1000X larger... the public's money.

    I agree with some of the sentiments posted baout Boeing's motivation being a small bump in publicity. They get to be SEEN as incubating miraculous new developments... even though Boeing's engineers know that whatever wins their prize is not likely to change how we go to the grocery store.

    If Boeing wanted to foster the growth of something truly miraculolus for our lives, they would offer $10 Million for whoever can lower the drag coefficient of a 4 passenger car by 10 or 15%. That would save millions and billions and trillions in fuel, lower atmospheric pollution, etc. etc. That kind of contest will make the world better, but it doesn't get millions of millennials to re-tweet it and facebook it all the way to Jupiter and back.
     
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  9. Jan 28, 2018 #9

    oriol

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    Last edited: Jan 28, 2018
  10. Jan 28, 2018 #10

    cluttonfred

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  11. Jan 28, 2018 #11

    oriol

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    Just guessing, because I never flown an heli by myself, but I do not think that piston helis or gyros are necessarly much harder to fly than conventional small aircrafts with an equivalent minimum training.

    In any case, now there many of the shelve components used in RC multicopters that allow for assisted take off and landing that might be adapted for a real small heli. It should be possible that the occupant is only required to enter the destination and the computer flies the thing from roof A to roof B.


    Oriol
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2018
  12. Jan 28, 2018 #12

    narfi

    narfi

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    They want a multi-copter with some sort of safely folding wings that a can be extended in the air to reduce cross country power consumption.
    It must look like something Bruce Wayne would be willing to get into.
    Flight controles are just suggestions to the computer and as easy to fly as the modern multi-copters that 6yr olds can currently look like pros flying after 5min of training.
     
  13. Jan 28, 2018 #13

    RonL

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    I searched the forum and got no matches, so here is something that gets close to the prize competition.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7yBWfqHjDQ

    It needs modification but not a lot.
     
  14. Jan 28, 2018 #14

    narfi

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  15. Jan 28, 2018 #15

    bmcj

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    The X-prize that Spaceship One won yielded a different way to do non-orbital spaceflight and is on the verge of spawning a small space tourism industry.
     
  16. Jan 28, 2018 #16

    BJC

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    Right you are, bmcj. Did the prize money exceed the cost? Weren’t they sponsored?


    BJC
     
  17. Jan 29, 2018 #17

    flyboy2160

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    Sorry, but I'm throwing the B.S. flag twice on this one:

    -I've predicted since this started that we will have a real life version of the locker room scene in Top Gun in which Jester tells Maverick ~ "That was some of the best flying I've seen so far - right up to when you got killed." Rich big shots will be one-upping their image with each other - right up until there's a rich guy fatality. We're already halfway there. Anybody remember Uncle Burt's crowing about the "safety" of his shuttlecock?"

    -This technology has a less than zero effect on actual space tourism. Years ago, there was a picture of Uncle Burt against a backdrop of a big space tourist "hotel" window looking down onto the earth. There were his shuttlecock looking thingys in the scene. What a crock intended to fool gullible investors and the technically illiterate general public who don't realize that you have to go ~17,000 mph to get to orbit and then scrub off that speed coming back. Let's see the design and the mission profile for that 17,000 mph shuttlecock. A week to scrub off the speed?

    The Ansari X prize was very narrowly defined up and down mission for which the shuttlecock was an elegant solution. I don't see it as suitable for anything except the original mission.
     
  18. Jan 29, 2018 #18

    rdj

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    Yes.

    Yes.

    The Google Lunar X Prize: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Lunar_X_Prize just expired with no winners. Same problem--what the prize offerer is typically hoping for is that new advancement in science, the "disruptive technology", and its fallout the "new market". The problem is that disruptive technologies don't happen on fixed schedules, and the truly disruptive ones are rarely a linear extrapolation of current technologies. If Henry Ford had built what his customers were asking for at the time he would have built a faster horse. Most of these prizes are won because some rich guy wants to win it; Spaceship One is a classic example as it was funded primarily by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Like VB said truly disruptive technologies don't win prizes, they win by creating something much larger: that new market.
     
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  19. Jan 29, 2018 #19

    Aesquire

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    Schneider Cup.

    A serious attempt to push the logical aircraft development for commercial flight. As it happened, the focus was on a path that ended up not being the current dominant form of commercial aviation. But sea planes did get better and did well through WW2. And the fact that there were zero mile long paved runways on the planet in 1913 made it a safe bet. That's more than three decades of production flying boats so overall I rate it as a success.

    No need to go into why we don't fly Boeing Clippers to Hawaii today.

    The spin offs from the Schneider Trophy, however, were profound. The dominance of float equipped racing monopolies, also used through today, wasn't the anticipated path for commercial aviation. Now a GA option, as well as WW2 use.

    The effect on Rolls Royce and Supermarine gave us the game changing Merlin & Spitfire. Arguably changed the course of the war, & kept Rolls Royce in the aircraft engine business, which they might have abandoned without pressure to develop the R engine.

    Unintended consequences. You can't count on them giving you what you want. But they often give you what you didn't know to ask for.
     
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  20. Jan 29, 2018 #20

    bmcj

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    Wow, you really carry a personal vendetta against “Uncle Burt”, why is that?

    You have to give him some credit. He has offered a number of unique designs, some of which have become favorites to many and made a notable impact on home built aviation. He also designed the first and, I think, still the only non-stop non-refueled circumnavigation of the globe. He built a well known company with a couple of spinoffs. Most recently, he created the only successful civilian spacecraft, albeit suborbital. Another recent rollout of his designs has a record wingspan.

    His designs are not for everyone, and some can even be compared to some much older lost designs. He hasn’t built the plane to beat all planes, but he has made an impact. He has claimed two major aviation challenge prizes. Yes, he had a benefactor that helped finance SS1 and the cost probably exceeded the prize, but he met the challenge. SS2 probably won’t make a big dent in space tourism and it might not even start a permanent (or continuous) movement, but it is the first start of a civilian space tourist program with a real ‘for profit’ investor. Even if it is never allowed to carry a paying passenger, at least it will mark a beginning.
     
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