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. Read Overview...



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


Lockheed Martin and The Drone Racing League (DRL) challenge you to participate in AlphaPilot, an open innovation challenge, developing artificial intelligence (AI) for high-speed racing drones.  


Enter the AlphaPilot Innovation Challenge today for your chance to master autonomous flight and win more than $2,000,000 in cash prizes.


AlphaPilot will challenge teams of up to 10 participants each to design an AI framework, powered by the NVIDIA Jetson platform for AI at the edge, that is capable of flying a drone -- without any human intervention or navigational pre-programming. Autonomous drones will race head-to-head through complex, three-dimensional tracks in DRL’s new Artificial Intelligence Robotic Racing (AIRR) Circuit, starting in 2019.

AlphaPilot aims to unite a diverse community of practicing and emerging AI experts, researchers and students to inspire the next generation of autonomous drone technology. By participating in this challenge, your knowledge and ideas can contribute directly toward the future of autonomous transportation, delivery, disaster relief, and even space exploration!



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 are targeting U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to apply for AlphaPilot; however, the competition is 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.



  • Click ACCEPT CHALLENGE above to apply for AlphaPilot.
  • Read the Challenge Guidelines to learn about competition.
  • Share this challenge on social media using the icons above. Show your friends, your family, or anyone you know who has a passion for discovery.
  • Start a conversation in our Forum to join the discussion, ask questions or connect with other innovators.


Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 100,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. This year, the company received three Edison awards for groundbreaking innovations in autonomy, satellite technology and directed energy. 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. In 2018 DRL hosted a global series of seven races, the Allianz World Championship, that is airing on ESPN, Sky Sports, ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE, Groupe AB, Disney XD, OSN, and FOX Sports Asia. For more information, please visit www.drl.io

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Test 1

AlphaPilot Qualifier

Test #1 – Team Video & Questionnaire



The first component of AlphaPilot qualifications will focus on team knowledge, experience, readiness, and cohesion. This is your chance to convince AlphaPilot judges that you have what it takes to tackle a difficult, year-long challenge. Your goal is to inspire confidence in your team’s ability to develop novel approaches to drone racing, bring the resources needed to compete, and mitigate real-world uncertainty.



Test #1 will consist of two parts: written-response and video submission. Both parts must be submitted together via the Test #1 entry form. Teams may submit one and only one entry form, to be received from the Team Captain. Deadline for submission is March 11th at 5:00PM EST. To begin your entry, click the orange "Begin Entry" button or "Accept Challenge" button above.



This section will consist of five questions addressing team experience with technical challenges, predictions for AlphaPilot technology development, and proposed development methodologies. Each written question has a limit of 4000 characters, including spaces.


Video Submission

AlphaPilot is interested in the human story behind autonomy and artificial intelligence. To help us tell your story, we are asking each team to submit a video (up to 3 minutes in length) demonstrating what makes your team qualified, unique, and compelling. What you include is up to you – this is your story! A scoring rubric is outlined in the following section and can be used as a content guideline. Please note that teams will not be judged based on video production value; the quality of your message is what counts. At a minimum, video entries must cover the following:

  • Describe your team’s composition, background, and qualifications as they relate to the AlphaPilot challenge and associated technologies. Why is your team the one to beat? *Note: teams may add or modify members following video submission, so long as all changes comply with AlphaPilot Rules & Regulations. However, teams will be assessed only on the members presented in their video.
  • Have any team members participated in prior competitions focused on artificial intelligence and autonomy? Has your team worked together in the past on technical challenges with comparable scope or complexity? Please give examples and describe the results.

Other suggested topics include:

  • What will make your team a success? What is your advantage?
  • What makes your team unique?
  • Where do you work or go to school?
  • Who are your mentors, advisors, role-models?
  • What about AlphaPilot inspires you?
  • What will you do if you win AlphaPilot?



A panel of AlphaPilot judges will review and score your submitted Test #1 form. Each entry will be reviewed by multiple judges. The questions will be graded based on a maximum point value, with your score for each reflecting the quality of your answer as determined by the judging panel. Videos will be assessed based on the following criteria:

  • Team Experience: team demonstrates experience working on similar technical challenges as part of their career, academic study, challenge programs, or personal hobbies.
  • Team Knowledge: team demonstrates suitable knowledge of subject matter, including supporting evidence such as research, work experience, degrees, publications, and accolades.
  • Team Cohesion: team demonstrates comfort working together and complimentary skillsets that could lead to a winning solution. There are no obvious logistic or social challenges that would impede a team’s performance.
  • Team Resources: team demonstrates enough resources to develop, train, and test their solutions. This includes access to enabling hardware and software, support from organizations, and mentorship from thought-leaders.
  • Team Perspective: team communicates a compelling perspective and driving force behind their participation in AlphaPilot. Team displays energy and passion for artificial intelligence and autonomous systems. Team members are doing interesting things in the field and have commendable aspirations.


About the Judges:

The AlphaPilot team is assembling a diverse panel of judges from academia, government, and industry; all top in their respective fields and considered though-leaders in autonomous systems and artificial intelligence. We will leverage their expert opinions and experience working in the field to identify top AlphaPilot teams. You can learn more about the AlphaPilot judges from their biography pages, which will be posted shortly.


Frequently Asked Questions

What information are you looking for in the Test 1 video? We have a team of 10 people, what should we prioritize given we only have three minutes.

AlphaPilot is a year-long endeavour. Aside from technical performance in Test #2 and Test #3, we want to know that your team is a solid investment. Do you have the cohesion and commitment to see the challenge through? We don’t want teams that will break-up, become distracted, or lose interest half-way through. Do you appreciate the difficulty of AlphaPilot and the level of effort that will be required? Have you thought through possible setbacks? Can you reference some examples of difficult software problems and how you handled them? What makes your team unique – i.e. more than a group of individuals? In summary, make us feel confident in you as a team.

Test 2
Test 3