Lockheed Martin and the Drone Racing League (DRL) have announced an artificial technology (AI) innovation competition.
The aerospace and defence company has teamed up with the DRL to challenge teams to develop AI technology that will enable an autonomous drone to race a pilot-operated drone, and win.
Participating teams will compete in a series of challenges for their share of over £1.5m in prizes.
Lockheed Martin chief technology officer Keoki Jackson announced the challenge at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco, kicking off a multi-year partnership with DRL, the global professional circuit for drone racing.
The AlphaPilot Innovation Challenge will enlist university students, technologists, coders and drone enthusiasts to push the boundaries of AI, machine learning (ML) and fully autonomous flight.
Jackson said: “At Lockheed Martin, we are working to pioneer state-of-the-art, AI-enabled technologies that can help solve some of the world’s most complex challenges, from fighting wildfires and saving lives during natural disasters to exploring the farthest reaches of deep space.”
He added: “Now, we are inviting the next generation of AI innovators to join us with our AlphaPilot Innovation Challenge. Competitors will have an opportunity to define the future of autonomy and AI and help our world leverage these promising technologies to build a brighter future.”
The AlphaPilot challenge wants to accelerate the development and testing of fully autonomous drone technologies as participants will design an artificial intelligence machine learning framework, powered by the NVIDIA Jetson platform for AI at the edge, capable of flying a drone without any pre-programming or human intervention.
The Lockheed Martin AlphaPilot Innovation Challenge will open for entries in November and selected participants are eligible for over £1.5m in cash prizes, including an extra £190,000 award for the first team that outperforms a professional DRL human-piloted drone.