Military Embedded Systems

Drone challenge aims to push autonomous flight, AI, ML technology into high gear


September 06, 2018

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

SAN FRANCISCO--TECH CRUNCH/DISRUPT SF TRADE SHOW. Lockheed Martin and Drone Racing League (DRL) announced an innovation competition at Tech Crunch 2018, challenging teams to develop artificial intelligence (AI) technology that will pit an autonomous drone in a race against a pilot-operated drone and win.

According to materials from Lockheed Martin, the AlphaPilot Innovation Challenge will enlist university students, technologists, coders, and drone enthusiasts to innovate and push the boundaries of AI, machine learning (ML), and fully autonomous flight.

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

The Lockheed Martin AlphaPilot Innovation Challenge will open for entries in November. The teams chosen to compete 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. Those interested in learning more and applying to participate can visit


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