US: The Drone Racing League (DRL), the global, professional drone racing circuit, today launched the DRL RacerAI, the league’s first-ever autonomous racing drone. Designed to be the first autonomous robot to defeat a human in a physical sport, the DRL RacerAI will help close the gap between artificial intelligence (AI) and human performance.
The news comes out ahead of DRL’s inaugural Artificial Intelligence Robotic Racing (AIRR) Circuit, which kicks off its four-event, autonomous drone racing series today in Orlando, Florida. AIRR races will feature nine identical DRL RacerAI drones operated only by AI – specifically, AI developed by the nine teams from Lockheed Martin’s AlphaPilot Challenge. AlphaPilot teams’ AI will pilot their DRL RacerAI through gates on a course for the fasting time – all without any GPS, data relay or human intervention. The fastest team’s drone will then go head-to-head against the fastest 2019 DRL Allianz World Champion pilot with an aim to win.
Customized by DRL’s team of world-class drone technicians, the DRL RacerAI has a radical drone configuration to provide its computer vision with a non-obstructive frontal view during racing. Generating 20 pounds of thrust, each self-flying drone is equipped with a powerful AI-at-the-edge compute platform, the NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier, and is connected to four onboard stereoscopic cameras — enabling the AI to detect and identify objects with twice the field of view as human pilots.
“The DRL RacerAI is a major milestone for The Drone Racing League and the future of sports. AI has defeated humans in nearly every digital game we know, but it hasn’t come close to defeating a human in real-life sports — yet,” said DRL CEO/Founder Nicholas Horbaczewski. “Through the competitive AIRR events, we’ll watch the DRL RacerAI get faster and smarter, catch up to human competitors, and one day, outpace the best pilot in the world. This will mark an initial step towards a future when autonomous systems can operate in all complex flying environments, from package delivery to search and rescue missions.”
“The RacerAI drone, built by DRL and powered by the NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier, is a critical component of our Lockheed Martin AlphaPilot Innovation Challenge. AlphaPilot is all about going fast, taking risks and pushing the boundaries of AI and autonomous flight – our teams’ AI code, coupled with the new, state-of-the-art RacerAI drone, will help us do just that,” said Lockheed Martin Chief Technology Officer Keoki Jackson. “Lockheed Martin is providing AlphaPilot teams with hundreds of RacerAIs throughout the competition, helping to remove financial barriers and risk that have previously hindered innovation in this emerging area.”