Military Embedded Systems

Drone AI challenge launches via Herox platform, global participants encouraged


November 14, 2018

Mariana Iriarte

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

OTTAWA. Lockheed Martin's AlphaPilot Innovation Challenge has officially launched through the HeroX platform and is accepting applications in the U.S. and around the world, officials announce. Deadline for entires is February 28, 2019.

The goal of the challenge is to accelerate the development and testing of fully autonomous drone technologies. AlphaPilot was launched earlier this year by Lockheed Martin Chief Technology Officer Keoki Jackson through a partnership with The Drone Racing League (DRL), the global professional circuit for drone racing. This open innovation competition challenges teams to develop artificial intelligence (AI) technology that will enable an autonomous drone to race a pilot-operated drone – and win. Participating teams will compete in a series of challenges for their share of over $2 million (USD) in prizes.

AlphaPilot participants will design an AI framework, powered by the NVIDIA Jetson platform for AI at the edge, capable of flying a drone – without any pre-programming or human intervention – through challenging multi-dimensional race courses in DRL's inaugural 2019 Artificial Intelligence Robotic Racing (AIRR) Circuit.

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 in a head-to-head race. Undergraduate and graduate students, drone enthusiasts, coders and other technologists interested in learning more and applying to participate can visit or Lockheed Martin anticipates accepting teams of up to 10 participants each.

“Lockheed Martin is proud of its partnerships with universities around the globe and wanted to ensure the AlphaPilot Innovation Challenge is open to accept the innovative ideas from students, coders and AI enthusiasts from around the world,” says Lockheed Martin Chief Technology Officer Keoki Jackson. “We are inviting the next generation of innovators, including undergraduate and graduate students from around the world, to help us define the future of autonomy and AI.”

“Projects like the AlphaPilot Challenge are the future of innovation and I commend Lockheed Martin for leading the way,” explains Christian Cotichini, CEO of HeroX. “HeroX exists to connect leading companies to global human intelligence and we are proud to be working with Lockheed Martin. I can’t wait to see what breakthroughs the top global innovators create in autonomous drone technology.”


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