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DARPA Challenge: Red Balloon Scavenger Hunt

12.1.09   |   Posted in: Events   |   By: A. Salem Jones
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DARPA, the Pentagon’s research agency, has from time to time issued challenges for the benefit of defense research. You may remember their contests to have autonomous robotic vehicles navigate a course. This Saturday, December 5th, a new challenge will begin. DARPA will hide ten eight-foot balloons within the continental United States. The individual or team which can submit the location of the most balloons wins $40,000 (preferably in small unmarked bills). While the balloons will only be present for one day, people will have longer to submit their locations.

The purpose of the challenge is to study patterns of social networking. DARPA is already anticipating tactics of misinformation, decoy balloons and more. Registration available until the contest begins. More info about the rules can be found here. Trust no one.


4 Responses to “DARPA Challenge: Red Balloon Scavenger Hunt”

  1. Alex Jones Says:

    #DARPA seems to be the most common twitter tag for contest buzz at the moment

  2. John Fredrickson Says:

    I wonder what they hope to learn from this. Won’t people just start retweeting the discovery of each balloon such that the entire world knows about them all in real time? The discoveries will spread so quickly it will be impossible for any single person to claim victory.

  3. MIT Says:

    Join the MIT team, invite your friends and you can win money, help
    science, and help charity!

    Find all the information about our approach at


    The MIT Red Balloon Challenge Team

  4. Alex Says:

    MIT Red Balloon Challenge Team has won the challenge. They relied on a tiered reward system with incentives going to those who identified balloons as well as those who referred the participant. 4,300 contestants registered for the challenge and the winning submission was received in just under nine hours according to CNET.

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