In 1919 Raymond Orteig offered a prize of $25,000
for the first nonstop aircraft flight across the Atlantic.
Many famous aviators attempted to win the prize. Famed
polar aviator Richard E. Byrd was the odds on favorite
to win. Many of the favorites, including Byrd,
crashed and never got close to winning the prize.
In May, 1927, a virtually unknown air-mail pilot named
Charles Lindbergh flew out from San Diego. Flying
the Spirit of St. Louis, built by Ryan Aircraft
Company, Lindbergh literally came out of nowhere and
won the Orteig prize. Despite all of the press
that Byrd and other aviators were getting in pursuit
of the Orteig prize, Lindbergh's determination brought
the prize to be his own.
Fast Forward About 80 Years...
And now there is another prize up for grabs. Instead
of Raymond Orteig, the US Government - through the
Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) -
is offering a $2 million prize for the first vehicle
that can traverse the Mojave desert. What's the
catch? The vehicle must traverse the desert unmanned
and completely autonomous. It's more than a challenge,
it's a Grand Challenge.