Lockheed Martin

AlphaPilot – Lockheed Martin AI Drone Racing Innovation Challenge

AlphaPilot – Lockheed Martin AI Drone Racing Innovation Challenge

AlphaPilot is the first large-scale open innovation challenge of its kind focused on advancing artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomy.
COVID-19 Cancellation

Challenge Overview





Dear HeroX Community,

Over the past few weeks, the rapid spread of COVID-19 and its wide-ranging impacts have caused severe disruptions around the world. The COVID-19 is affecting us all – at work, at home, and in our communities. Lockheed Martin believes that resolving this challenge should take precedent over our other challenge, AlphaPilot. In this spirit, we have decided to cancel our plans for a 2020 season. Health and safety are our top priority. We encourage everyone following AlphaPilot to use the time and effort they would have put into a 2020 season to instead help the world defeat COVID-19. Your creative spark and desire to solve difficult problems is exactly what the world needs right now.

Lockheed Martin would like to thank those who followed and participated in the 2019 season. Together, we accomplished amazing things and brought new energy to the future of autonomous flight. This is not an ending; it’s just the beginning. 


Stay safe, stay healthy, and keep innovating,

The Lockheed Martin AlphaPilot Team



For more information on Lockheed Martin's COVID-19 response, please visit:




Calling all coders, gamers, race fans, and drone enthusiasts


Launching the AlphaPilot Innovation Challenge, Lockheed Martin and The Drone Racing League (DRL) have challenged teams of coders, engineers, and technologists to take on developing artificial intelligence (AI) for high-speed racing drones.  


Of over the 420 teams that applied in 2019, only 9 finalists earned the opportunity to compete in mastering autonomous flight and win more than $1,250,000 in cash prizes.


The AlphaPilot challenge tests teams of up to 10 participants on their ability to design an AI framework - powered by the NVIDIA Xavier GPU for autonomous systems - capable of flying a drone through three-dimensional race courses using only machine vision and guidance, navigation, and control algorithms. Teams will not have prior knowledge of the exact course layouts, nor will they benefit from GPS, data offboarding, or human intervention of any kind. Designed by DRL, the autonomous drone will provide the sensing, agility, and speed needed for competitive racing as part of DRL’s new Artificial Intelligence Robotic Racing (AIRR) Circuit, starting in fall 2019.



Why Drones?

Drone racing is a futuristic sport and a big draw for millennials and K-12 students with an interest in technology — many of whom will become future STEM professionals, drone pilots, and engineers. Lockheed Martin recognizes the important role in helping to develop a workforce with skills to compete in a 21st century high-tech economy. Lockheed Martin and DRL targeted U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to apply for AlphaPilot; however, the competition was open to drone enthusiasts, coders and technologists of all ages from around the world.


Why is Lockheed Martin doing this?

For more than 100 years, Lockheed Martin has been redefining flight — from the fastest speeds, to the edge of space, to unmatched maneuverability, and stealth. AI-enabled autonomy promises to fundamentally change the future of flight, and we are actively developing disruptive new AI technologies that will help our customers accomplish their most important missions – from reaching Mars to fighting wildfires.


Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 105,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. For more information, please visit www.lockheedmartin.com/alphapilot.





DRL is the professional drone racing circuit for elite FPV pilots around the world. A technology, sports and media company, DRL combines world-class media and proprietary technology to create thrilling 3D drone racing content with mass appeal. The 2019 DRL Allianz World Championship Season will feature races in iconic venues across the globe that'll stream on Twitter and Youku and air on the best sports programs worldwide, including NBC, Sky Sports and ProSieben. For more information, please visit www.drl.io

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Sponsors & Sponsorships

AlphaPilot is not going to be easy, but you shouldn’t have to go at it alone! That’s why we are encouraging teams to find sponsors for financial assistance, resources, general support and all-around advocacy. Who can sponsor your team? Anyone – universities, companies, investors, crowd funding…you name it.


Why sponsor a team? If you’re a believer in artificial intelligence and want to establish yourself as a thought-leader, what better way than to champion a team that’s redefining state-of-the-art! It’s a small commitment for a relatively large return. As a sponsor, you’ll have the opportunity to showcase your chosen team and get your name out there in our filmed content and public engagements.


What does it require? That’s up to you. Between $5,000 - $10,000 should cover a team’s travel requirements, should they make the final round. Some in-kind contributions may include access to GPU hardware and high-performance computing infrastructure, support from professors or subject matter experts, and flight time in licensed drone facilities.


How to sponsor a team? Find a team you like and form a sponsorship agreement. This can occur in any number of ways. To help, sponsors can share the sponsorship opportunities they have available in the Resources Section. In addition, sponsors can browse all teams that have registered for the AlphaPilot Challenge and reach out to team captains directly via their team page You can also meet teams via online forums, conferences, social events, and other in-person engagements. In many cases, sponsors may be the university or company from which the team is affiliated. However it happens, the AlphaPilot team will permit the agreement so long as the sponsorship does not violate any contest Rules and Regulations. Teams that are selected for the final round may be asked to disclose information regarding their sponsor and sponsorship agreement as a requirement for continued participation.


Are you a true believer? Become part of the program! 

Lockheed Martin has reserved several sponsorship slots for our AlphaPilot racing events. If your organization is interested in becoming an official sponsor and would like more information on benefits and pricing options, please . We welcome you on our journey to galvanize public interest in artificial intelligence and democratize the technology for all – practitioners and fans!

2019 Virtual Qualifier Tests