University graduates to take part in AI drone racing challenge

Lockheed Martin and the Drone Racing League unveils its AlphaPilot Challenge with $2m in the prize pool


US-based global security and aerospace company, Lockheed Martin and the US Drone Racing League (DRL) have announced its AlphaPilot Innovation Challenge which requires teams to develop an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered, autonomous drone to compete against another pilot-operated drone.

The innovation challenge will test AI-powered drones against professional piloted UAVs. A cash sum of $2m will be given to the winning teams including an additional $250,000 award for the first team to outperform DRL's drone.

Keoki Jackson, Lockheed CTO, commented: "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.

"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."

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The challenge is open to undergraduate and graduate students, drone enthusiasts, coders and other tech fanatics and will be built on NVIDIA Jetson, an AI computing development platform. Lockheed Martin has stated that funding of the AlphaPilot Challenge is derived from its savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Additionally, the challenge aims to accelerate the development of autonomous drones and will take place on DRL's 2019 drone racing season as part of its Artificial Intelligence Robotic Racing (AIRR) circuit that comprises of four AI vs. AI races in its inaugural season with video game-inspired courses.

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