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.
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!
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.
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.
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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
Compete as a Team
Sponsor a Team
Sponsor the AIRR Circuit
Host an AlphaPilot Race
Open Registration (November 2018 – February 2019)
Virtual Qualifying Round (March 2019)
Workshop (June 2019 – July 2019)
Race in the 2019 AIRR Season (August 2019 – December 2019)
In preparation for the virtual qualifier challenge and AIRR League, we urge participants to practice solving challenges related to computer-vision, creation of neural networks, and image classification. Developing an in-depth understanding of the Xavier Jetson is also encouraged, as is utilization of free autonomous vehicle related simulators - all of which will be valuable experience in preparation for the AlphaPilot Challenge and AIRR League.
The virtual qualifier will consist of three parts: Test 1 will be a 3-5 minute video submission accompanied by several written responses. It will be used to assess each team’s knowledge level, relevant experience, and cohesiveness. Tests 2 and 3 will be made available simultaneously shortly after, and will be designed as objective tests of applicant skill. Test 2 will consist of a computer vision exam, where teams must develop and submit image classifier algorithms for a specific race-related object (using a provided image library). Test 3 will involve an open-source Unity-based simulator, where teams must develop and submit algorithms for guidance and control of drones. The simulator provided in Test 3 will be separate from DRL’s simulation environment, which will only be available to finalist teams as part of a development kit. However, the Test 3 simulator will remain available for public use as tool for training and testing autonomous control algorithms following the 2019 AlphaPilot qualifier. Details on the qualifier challenges, timelines, and scoring criteria will be made available in mid-January.
No. Following the qualifier challenge, the final teams selected will be provided with kits including software and hardware development assets. They do not need to supply any of their own equipment to write or test competition code. Onsite, all drones, technology, and associated components will be provided by the AIRR League
The final teams selected for the AlphaPilot challenge will have access to a development kit - one component of which will be a simulator for code deployment and testing. Unfortunately, contest administrators will only be able to provide this AIRR League development kit for the final qualifying teams.
Racing will take place on AIRR League courses - designed and produced by the Drone Racing League. Competition elements such as gates, length, and flight path complexity are being developed by the same course designers that shape DRL’s cutting edge courses. However, they will incorporate a visual fiducial system and be designed specifically with the intention of hosting autonomous drone competition.
Teams can be formed through the HeroX forum, through in-person contacts with other challenge participants, or any way you see fit to approach the challenge. Regardless of which team you’re on, we encourage collaboration between participants in the forum.
AlphaPilot is about building community and trust in autonomy. Our goal is to bring together users from all walks of life and create a fun, common challenge that pushes the state-of-the-art.
Unfortunately, team members must be the age of majority in their country or residence or at least 18 years of age, whichever is older as of the start of the Challenge. You can view the complete details on eligibility in the legal agreement.
There are a few keys things we are looking for in the technical report: teams to explain clearly what they did, how their approach would (or would not) be used in AlphaPilot, and any challenges they ran into how and how they overcame them.
The competition is designed to minimize team expenses. There are no fees or travel requirements for the Qualifier. The only cost that Finalists will incur is travel to AIRR events. Only one member of each Finalist team is required to attend each AIRR event. Teams are permitted to train however they see fit, including the purchase of additional resources beyond the development kit. However, this is not required and is at the discretion (and expense) of teams.
Lockheed Martin and DRL will work with teams to secure sponsorships. This could be from universities, companies, or other organizations. We will leverage our connections and distribute team media to the extent possible.
Yes! Teambuilding is encouraged and can include team mergers. The Team Matching function is there to help. Please solidify any such changed by the end of registration.
The Qualification judges are a mix of experts from academia, industry, and government. Many experts in drones, GNC, machine learning, machine vision, and more support AlphaPilot.