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

View legal agreement

Updates 13
Forum 7
Community 2.9K


WIRED: It's Coders Versus Human Pilots in This Drone Race

Dec. 8, 2019, 10 p.m. PST
On Friday night in an old newspaper printing plant in Austin, the future of drone automation lifted off, accelerated and flew, nearly fast enough to beat one of the best drone pilots in the world. Gabriel Kocher, known in the professional Drone Racing League as Gab707, sat behind a net, wearing video goggles and steering his drone through five square gates on a short, curvy course. Next to him were four teammates from the MavLAB of the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. They had already programmed their automated drone, which resembled a mini Stealth Bomber. Now they were watching to see if their code had made the drone fast and accurate enough to defeat Kocher.

AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN: Austin races pair up drones, AI technology

Dec. 6, 2019, 10 p.m. PST
Drone racing could become even more cutting edge with the help of artificial intelligence navigation. Austin is one of four cities hosting the first large-scale competition for AI-powered drone racing, a technology that could define the next generation of the sport.

Telemundo Orlando — El Clon

Oct. 17, 2019, 10 p.m. PDT
Una historia de amor que traspasa los límites del tiempo, las ideologías religiosas y la ciencia.

NBC Coverage of AIRR Race #1

Oct. 17, 2019, 10 p.m. PDT

ABC News Coverage of AIRR Race #1

Oct. 17, 2019, 10 p.m. PDT
WPBF (ABC) - WPBF 25 News

2019 Virtual Qualifier Tests