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KBR collaborates with NASA and AWS to stage a race of fully autonomous vehicles

US: KBR has collaborated with NASA and Amazon Web Services (AWS) to successfully stage the “DeepRacer” event where racers operated fully autonomous vehicles using an advanced machine learning technique called reinforcement learning.

NASA and KBR interns and other employees faced off at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Aug. 8 to see whose machine-learning models could propel an AWS DeepRacer vehicle around a track the fastest. Their models rewarded vehicles for speed and accuracy for staying on the course, allowing each vehicle to autonomously make short-term decisions to achieve long-term goals.

KBR intern Minh Nguyen’s winning vehicle circled the track in 13.14 seconds.

At one-eighteenth the size of a normal car, the AWS DeepRacer allows reinforcement learning models built in virtual environments to be tested in the real world, which presents an accessible opportunity for exploring artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

KBR worked with AWS and NASA to organize this event, as well as a pre-race, four-hour workshop with an AWS DeepRacer expert to help interns build, test and fine-tune their reinforcement learning models.

“KBR understands the importance of investing in tomorrow’s workforce. We are proud to have played a key role in an event that fueled interns’ imaginations and developed their AI skills,” said Byron Bright, President, KBR Government Solutions U.S.

“The DeepRacer event also provided an opportunity for NASA to experiment with autonomous systems for future exploration missions and showcased how the private and public sector can collaborate to leverage and advance technology,” he continued.

As one of the world’s largest human spaceflight support organizations and as NASA’s second-largest support services contractor, KBR has employees at 11 NASA sites who are helping solve the agency’s biggest challenges. The company is forging the future through technology, innovation, and unmatched expertise, which includes intelligent robotics and autonomous systems, machine learning and AI.