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.
2020 Season Coming Soon!

Challenge Overview



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 12

Challenge Updates

Television Times

Dec. 9, 2019, 9:32 a.m. PST by Keith Lynn

Check out highlights from the 2019 AIRR Season during The Drone Racing League broadcasts on NBC Sports (NBCSN) and Twitter at the following times:



Broadcast Date

Broadcast Time (UTC-5)



Intro to AlphaPilot & AIRR


6:00 PM




1:00 AM & 1:00 PM


Overview of AlphaPilot Teams


6:00 PM




1:00 AM & 1:00 PM


AI Competition /Orlando Feature Overview 


6:00 PM




1:00 AM & 1:00 PM


RacerAI Feature 


6:00 PM




1:00 AM & 1:00 PM


DC Recap 


1:00 AM & 1:00 PM


Baltimore Recap 


1:00 AM & 1:00 PM


Season Recap 


4:00 PM




4:00 PM



MAVLab vs. Gab707

Dec. 9, 2019, 9:20 a.m. PST by Keith Lynn

The 2019 AlphaPilot and AIRR seasons finished with a head-to-head race between our winning team, MAVLab, and DRL's representative human pilot, Gab707. Through several course runs, MAVLab clocked a best time of 11.5 seconds; shaving a half-second off their winning time from the AIRR Championship. Their top speed was measured at 14.6 miles per hour. Manually piloting the RacerAI drone, Gab707 achieved a 6.9 second finish time, reaching 24.7 miles per hour.  Pilot vs. Programmer: Round 1 goes to Gab707...but by a much smaller margin than anticipated! 

We hope to build on this friendly competition in 2020 by giving our top programmers another chance to outperform the world's top human drone pilots. 

Gabriel Kocher

AIRR World Championship - Final Results

Dec. 9, 2019, 9:11 a.m. PST by Keith Lynn

Congrats, Team MAVLab, for taking home the $1,000,000 prize with a winning time of 12 seconds! A tight competition with Team UZH Robotics & Perception, who clocked a best finishing time of 15 seconds.


Lockheed Martin is pleased to recognize Team MAVLab for their fantastic achievement in the 2019 AIRR Season. Selected among 424 team entries in the AlphaPilot Innovation Challenge, Team MAVLab has demonstrated commendable teamwork, agility, and innovation. Lockheed Martin launched AlphaPilot using benefits from the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017. Our goal was to drive innovation and foster the development of cutting-edge AI applications. AI is an exponential technology with great potential benefits for humanity. The rapid progress of 9 Finalist teams over the season is evidence of how quickly technology can advance with the right talent. Together, our teams are helping make history, as we strive to achieve the “Deep Blue Moment” for autonomous flight – outperforming a human drone pilot. Your work is monumental to building a better future.

Special Thanks to Beemo!

Dec. 9, 2019, 8:49 a.m. PST by Keith Lynn

Thank you, Beemo, for playing at our AIRR World Championship Race! Beemo is an Orlando-based folk band comprised of several Lockheed Martin engineers ....their very own Tony Mickle (base guitar) is a member of the AlphaPilot program team!

Thanks for the great performance and for showing the amazing diversity of our workforce!



AIRR Championship Race - Photos

Dec. 9, 2019, 8:43 a.m. PST by Keith Lynn





Forum 7
Community 2.8K
2019 Virtual Qualifier Tests