XPrize can help turn dreams into reality: Ratan Tata

Amrita Nair Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on December 12, 2014

Ratan Tata, launching "XPrize" in Mumbai on Friday. SHASHI ASHIWAL

Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons, Ratan Tata’s association with the XPrize Foundation dates back to 2008, when Tata Motors decided to join the race for the $10-million auto XPrize.

Though the company was already making headlines the same year, having unveiled the world’s cheapest car, the Nano, Ratan Tata said he was keen to join the race for the multi-million-dollar automotive XPrize.

“I was very enamoured by the prospect of going to space, and was drawn by an article in Time magazine about the XPrize contender’s privately built SpaceShipOne,” said Tata, adding: “At the same time, I was trying to participate in the micro-gallon race (with Tata Nano), and what really struck me about XPrize was that an organisation was aiming to solve a problem technologically and coupling it with a feat of endurance.”

Speaking at an event to launch the Indian chapter of XPrize in India, Ratan Tata, an investor and trustee, said he was “extremely drawn to the technological motivation behind the prize, given that its use was not just in the lab or a work-bench, but out in the real world.”

The Automotive X-Prize required vehicles to attain a fuel economy of at least 100 miles per US gallon, equivalent to 100 km on 2.35 litres, while also remaining practical for real-world use.

Though ultimately the Edison2 team took away the $5-million award for winning the mainstream class of the Automotive XPrize with its Very Light Car, Ratan Tata joined the XPrize board the same year, in 2008.

Ever since, Tata has been keen to bring the innovative contest to India. “India has tremendous potential, we have lots of inventors and innovation...,” he said, adding that by bringing the XPrize to India, “even 20-year-olds who have great ideas and want to be recognised on a global basis for their achievements...can participate without any limitation of age, wealth or name.”

Global solutions

Ratan Tata added that he had a dream that an Indian engineer or inventor could solve global problems.

“Earlier, he would never have had a chance to do that. With XPrize, now there is a chance….for these are visionary things that have been technically considered impossible, like artificial eyes, autonomous cars, application of robots… in the medical area, genome sequencing... all not easy to do. For the most part, these are the subject of dreams. Now, the satisfaction would be to bring all that into reality,” said Tata.

Published on December 12, 2014

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