Man beats AI drone in first race of its kind

An auto-mated drone managed to complete the course in just 12 secondsImage copyright
Drone Racing League

One of the world’s top drone pilots has beaten nine computer-piloted drones in a race around an obstacle course.

Swiss pilot Gabriel Kocher wore first-person-view goggles to pilot his drone through the course in six seconds.

The fastest automated drone, completing the unseen course in 12 seconds without the use of GPS or any human intervention, won a $1m (£0.76m) prize.

Organisers the Drone Racing League predicts AI-powered drones will dominate the competition by 2023.

Its first artificial-intelligence robotic racing contest was the result of a collaboration between aerospace giant Lockheed Martin and crowd-sourced problem-solving platform HeroX.

“Our team worked really hard throughout each stage to bring a robust and (most importantly) fast solution to the table,” said the prize-winning MVLab team.

“We are proud to have won despite the remarkable competitors that we had to face.”

Image copyright
Steve Wright

Image caption

Avionics expert Dr Steve Wright believes drones will soon come out on top

Dr Steve Wright, senior research fellow in avionics and aircraft systems, at University of the West of England told BBC News: “Ten years ago if you needed a processor that could solve those sort of problems – how to fly a drone through a course – it would have been the size of a dinner plate and would have guzzled energy and got so hot you could fry an egg on it.

“Now, it’s the size of a playing card and doesn’t get all that hot – suddenly, it fits in a drone.”