DRL unveils RacerAI, the league’s first-ever autonomous racing drone

It was designed to defeat the best human drone racing pilots. Certainly not today, probably not tomorrow. But when it comes to the makers of the Drone Racing League (DRL), the newly introduced RacerAI will gradually bridge the gap between artificial intelligence (AI) and human performance.

Artificial intelligence has defeated people in almost every digital game we know, but it’s not nearly as successful as ever to defeat a man in real sports… yet,” DRL CEO and founder Nicholas Horbaczewski said.

The RacerAI does not need to be driven by a human as it can handle this task on its own. Just like the stealth aircraft with a seven-point angular body, the RacerAI drone is built to achieve high speeds.

Underneath the hood is an NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier platform and features four stereoscopic cameras to more accurately detect and identify objects, exceeding the capabilities of a human pilot. Generating 20 pounds of thrust, each self-flying drone is equipped with a powerful AI-at-the-edge to compute platform.

DRL RacerAI will debut at the first Artificial Intelligence Robotic Racing (AIRR) Circuit in Orlando, Florida. In collaboration with defense contractor Lockheed Martin, the DRL hosted the Alpha Challenge, where the nine best of more than 400 teams from around the world qualified to participate in the four races of Artificial Intelligence Robot Racing’s premiere season, AIRR for short. The fastest drone will be then competing with the 2019 DRL Allianz World championship winner.

Drones have many uses in different industries, such as in all complex flying environments, from package delivery to search-and-rescue missions. With the official launch of DRL in 2016, the devices have gained a more competitive-sport aspect, although it remains a niche.

For those who have never seen a drone competition, the pro league describes it as what happens when you combine the thrill of Star Wars pod-racing with the adrenaline rush of Formula One racing.

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