DARPA to host wild balloon chase

Challenge features 10 red balloons

A contest planned by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will challenge contestants to use the Internet to locate the 10 large red weather balloons the agency will place across the continental United States, DARPA officials announced last week.

DARPA will put the balloons in publicly accessible locations and display them for one day during daylight hours. The first participant to identify the latitude and longitude of all the balloons will receive the $40,000 cash prize. The balloons will be positioned Dec. 5, DARPA officials said Oct. 29.

The competition, named the DARPA Network Challenge, marks the 40th anniversary of the Internet, DARPA officials said.

“In the 40 years since this breakthrough, the Internet has become an integral part of society and the global economy,” said DARPA Director Regina Dugan. “The DARPA Network Challenge explores the unprecedented ability of the Internet to bring people together to solve tough problems.”

The contest is open to people of all ages worldwide. DARPA officials said the contest will demonstrate the importance of collaboration across borders, mobilizing individuals and groups to deal with problems aided by the Internet.

DARPA has held competitions in the past including the Grand Challenge, which aimed to foster the development of autonomous robotic vehicle technology for use on the battlefield.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader Comments

Fri, Nov 13, 2009 Michael Fuller Auburn, Al

My team's website http://www.spotbigred.com is ready to accept balloon locations by Phone, TXT, web form and iPhone App.

Thu, Nov 5, 2009 David B WashingtonDC Region

The reporter missed the KEY goal of this competition! It is NOT about using the Internet (solely) it is all about using every method of SOCIAL NETWORKING (Internet is only one medium) to solve complex problems in realtime. Think of the balloons as the Superman/Lex Luthar nuclear bombs -- gotta find em and gotta find em FAST. This is a "push the envelope" test that not just our social networking "public" should be involved in, but the technology leaders should too!

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