Inconsistent research incentives

From the Friday Evening Wrap –

Budget Bots
Building a really, really fast robot just got a lot less lucrative — that is, if you’re looking for a big payout from the federal government. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency says a provision in the defense-spending bill signed into law this week by President Bush pulled away $2.7 million in prize money set out for engineers who win a robot race. Winners will now get shiny trophies, paid for out of the pocket of Darpa’s director, instead. The agency, which also fostered the birth of the Internet, has sponsored the cash prize competitions to inspire development of smart vehicles that could be used in the battlefield. But now, the incentives for some competitors are falling away. “The icing on the cake is gone,” Ivar Schoenmeyr, leader of California-based Team CyberRider, which is retrofitting a Toyota Prius hybrid, said to the Associated Press.

Is this anyway to run an R&D policy?

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