Lockheed Martin


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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Challenge Timeline

Nov. 13, 2018, 9:29 a.m. PST
Date Launched
Nov. 13, 2018, 9:30 a.m. PST
Open Registration
November 2018 - February 2019
Exact dates TBD
Jan. 18, 2019, 2 p.m. PST
Test 1 Launch
A set of written questions (Test 1) will be made available so teams can begin formulating their video responses.
Details outlining the tasks and mechanisms for the computer vision and simulator problems (Tests 2&3) will also be announced.
Jan. 25, 2019, 4 p.m. PST
Test 2 and Test 3 Details Released
Additional details on Tests #2 and #3 relevant to code development will be released.
Feb. 1, 2019, 4 p.m. PST
Test 2 Launch
Test 2 opens and resources are available.
Feb. 8, 2019, 2 p.m. PST
Test 3 Launch
Test 3 opens and resources are available.
Feb. 15, 2019, 10 p.m. PST
Leaderboard Opens
March 11, 2019, 1:59 p.m. PDT
Registration Closed
March 11, 2019, 2 p.m. PDT
Test 1 & 2 Deadline
Application window for the AlphaPilot Challenge will close. Participants unable to sign up and submit responses to Test 1 and Test 2 by this date are encouraged to stay tuned for 2019 results and future challenges.
March 22, 2019, 2 p.m. PDT
Test 3 Deadline
All submissions to Test 3 are due at 5 pm Eastern Time.
March 25, 2019, 2 p.m. PDT
Test 3 Debugging Deadline
May 21, 2019, 9 p.m. PDT
Qualifying Teams Announced
July 15, 2019, midnight PDT
AlphaPilot Team Developer Summit
An opportunity for the final 9 AlphaPilot Teams to come together, test their code and work face-to-face with mentors to further prepare for the AIRR race season.
Oct. 8, 2019, 1:30 a.m. PDT
AIRR Race #1
UCF Addition Finance Arena, Orlando, FL.
Doors open at 3:30pm
Nov. 2, 2019, 1:30 a.m. PDT
AIRR Race #2
Nov. 3, 2019, 10 p.m. PST
Team Workshop
Teams doing live drone deployment in Littleton, CO
(optional attendance)
Nov. 15, 2019, 1:30 a.m. PST
AIRR Race #3
Dec. 6, 2019, midnight PST
AIRR World Championship
Dec. 6, 2019, 10 p.m. PST
Dec. 31, 2019, 10 p.m. PST
COVID-19 Cancellation
AlphaPilot 2020 has been cancelled due to COVID-19. Please see Challenge Description for additional details.
Aug. 5, 2020, 12:51 p.m. PDT
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