Introducing An Ancestor Of The First Space Elevator

Only four years after it was first created, an annual competition set up to promote wireless energy transfer in hopes of speeding the creation of a Space Elevator has finally managed to give out one of its two cash prizes.

The Power Beaming Challenge was founded in 2005 (and seeded with $2 million in prize money by NASA) to discover the remotely-powered robot that could best ascend a cable as quickly and safely as possible; this year's winner, built by a team from Seattle's LaserMotive, was the first ever to complete the climb at a speed greater than 2 meters per second, and therefore the first to win one of the Challenge's two prizes (The remaining $1.1 million is for any robot that can climb faster than 5 meters per second; the top speed of LaserMotive's robot was 3.9 meters a second).

While the space elevator dream remains a long-term dream, NASA say that there are much closer goals for wireless power beaming, including powering solar powered lunar vehicles when they're in areas where solar energy is unavailable.

'Space elevator' wins $900,000 NASA prize [New Scientist]