Technologie By Michael LoRé 1644 Views

Drone Racing League Testing Autonomous Technology For Real-World Use

The Drone Racing League (DRL) bills itself as the sport of the future, so it’s no surprise it plans to help steer technology into tomorrow.

In September 2018, the DRL and Lockheed Martin LMT -0.1% announced the AlphaPilot Challenge, a competition pitting teams of engineers, students, coders and drone enthusiasts against each other to develop artificial intelligence (AI) technology to be utilized in an autonomous drone.

“Since the beginning of the DRL we have known sports are an interesting proving ground for technology,” DRL CEO and founder Nicholas Horbaczewski said. “Sports are an incredible crucible, pushing boundaries of speed and performance on a regular basis but doing so in a controlled environment. It allows you to really focus on the innovation of technology, and gives a platform to test and refine it.”

Similarly to how Formula 1 has been integral with the advancements of automobiles and Formula E is a testing ground for electric vehicles, the Drone Racing League is using its platform to improve, test and evolve drone technology and systems, having already seen advancements in small-performance drones, tracking systems and other related tech.

More than 400 teams representing approximately 2,300 innovators from 79 countries around the globe have signed up for the AlphaPilot Challenge since registration began in mid-November 2018. In conjunction with the challenge, the DRL announced the four-race Artificial Intelligence Robot Racing (AIRR) Circuit, which will debut in fall 2019.

Nine teams comprised of up to 10 members each will showcase their autonomous drones—flying without human intervention or navigational pre-programming—through three-dimensional courses with the circuit’s winning team taking home $1 million.