Over $2m in Prizes To Be Won in AI Drone Racing Contest

Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin and Drone Racing League (DRL) have announced a contest inviting teams to develop artificial intelligence (AI) systems capable of piloting racing drones and beating human pilots.

Participating teams will compete in a series of challenges for their share of more than $2 million in prizes.

The challenge was announced by Lockheed Martin CTO Keoki Jackson at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, and represents the starting point of a multi-year partnership with DRL.

The AlphaPilot Innovation Challenge is open to university students, technologists, coders and drone enthusiasts. The aim is to push the boundaries of AI, machine learning and fully autonomous flight.

Read more: New Developer Platform Could Make Skydio R1 The Go-To Commercial Drone

lockheed martin drl autonomy ai competition

The AlphaPilot Challenge

The AlphaPilot challenge is part of a wider ambition to accelerate the development and testing of fully autonomous drone technologies.

Participants will design an artificial intelligence/machine learning framework that will operate at the edge and be powered by the NVIDIA Jetson platform. The systems developed have to capable of flying a drone without any pre-programming or human intervention.

To put the contestants through their paces, each will race through challenging multi-dimensional race courses in DRL’s new Artificial Intelligence Robotic Racing (AIRR) Circuit.

The AlphaPilot Innovation Challenge will open for entries in November. Participants will be gunning for over $2 million in cash prizes, which include a $250,000 award for the first team that outperforms a professional DRL human-piloted drone.

Interested in getting involved? Visit here for more details.

“At Lockheed Martin, we are working to pioneer state-of-the-art, AI-enabled technologies that can help solve some of the world’s most complex challenges – from fighting wildfires and saving lives during natural disasters to exploring the farthest reaches of deep space,” said Jackson.

“Now, we are inviting the next generation of AI innovators to join us with our AlphaPilot Innovation Challenge. Competitors will have an opportunity to define the future of autonomy and AI and help our world leverage these promising technologies to build a brighter future.”

Read more: DRL Announces 2018 Season Partners, Race Locations & Pilots

DRL want to inspire the next generation of autonomous systems and AI developers

A big part of the fun of this challenge is that nobody quite knows what to expect from the entrants. Could this be the step towards human and AI pilots competing against one another?

drl 2018 season

“Since 2016, DRL has been the proving ground for the world’s most talented human pilots, showcasing their abilities to race remotely piloted drones at high speeds. This challenge changes the game,” said DRL CEO and Founder Nicholas Horbaczewski.

“How close is AI performance to the world’s best human piloting? We’re excited to find out next year when AlphaPilot drones compete in adrenaline-packed, futuristic drone races on complex courses in the AIRR Circuit. Our collaboration with Lockheed Martin will both accelerate AI innovation and redefine the sport of the future.”

Malek Murison is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for tech trends and innovation. He handles product reviews, major releases and keeps an eye on the enthusiast market for DroneLife.
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