Lockheed Martin launches competition for AI drone to beat human pilot

Lockheed Martin launches competition for AI drone to beat human pilot

Lockheed Martin and Drone Racing League (DRL) have launched a competition, challenging teams to develop artificial intelligence (AI) technology that will enable an autonomous drone to beat a pilot-operated drone in a race.

Lockheed Martin launches competition for AI drone to beat human pilot

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

Lockheed Martin Chief Technology Officer, Keoki Jackson, announced the challenge at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco, kicking off a multi-year partnership with DRL, the global professional circuit for drone racing.


AlphaPilot Innovation Challenges

The AlphaPilot Innovation Challenge will enlist university students, technologists, coders and drone enthusiasts to “push the boundaries” of AI, machine learning (ML) and fully autonomous flight.

The AlphaPilot challenge aims to accelerate the development and testing of fully autonomous drone technologies. AlphaPilot participants will design an artificial intelligence/machine learning framework, powered by the NVIDIA Jetson platform, capable of flying a drone – without any pre-programming or human intervention – through challenging multi-dimensional race courses in DRL's new Artificial Intelligence Robotic Racing (AIRR) Circuit.

"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."

"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," added 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."

The Lockheed Martin AlphaPilot Innovation Challenge will open for entries in November. Selected participants are eligible for over $2 million in cash prizes, including an extra $250,000 award for the first team that outperforms a professional DRL human-piloted drone.

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