NASA’s Google-funded AI drone finishes at second in race with human drone pilot

NASA AI drone

As the world is gearing up to welcome the artificial intelligence era, many people and organizations have started pitting AI against the human capabilities. Recently, NASA conducted a race between an AI drone and a world-class human pilot. Although the world-class human drone pilot came out as the winner, still the AI drone was not far behind; and was defined as the most consistent one among the two.

NASA informed that professional Drone pilot Ken Lo, who represented the humans, averaged 11.1 seconds for the drone loop whereas the autonomous drone averaged 13.9 seconds for the same loop. “But the course was tricky. This is definitely the densest track I’ve ever flown,” said Loo in a statement released by NASA. He then added that one of his faults as a pilot is he gets tired easily. When he gets mentally fatigued, he starts to get lost, even though he might have flown the course 10 times.

Informing about the race, NASA said that said that the AI drone was steadier and more consistent than the human-driven drone. Rob Reid, the project’s task manager, stated, “We pitted our algorithms against a human, who flies a lot more by feel. You can actually see that the A.I. flies the drone smoothly around the course, whereas human pilots tend to accelerate aggressively, so their path is jerkier.” The race was actually conducted on October 12, and final results were announced by NASA on Tuesday. One drone was raced by a Pro human drone pilot and other three drones namely Batman, Joker, and Nightwing) were raced by advanced AI machine that runs on the algorithms. The race was funded by Google, and the AI drones were built at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

From the race results, it can be inferred that although the AI drone lost the battle, it exhibited its trademark machine-like precision and consistency. It was slower than the human-driven drone because it lacked that creativity and aggression shown by the world-class drone pilot. For Reid, this race was quite exciting, and he came out with some positive thoughts. Our autonomous drones can fly much faster. One day you might see them racing professionally,” said Reid. Applying AI to drones will ease a lot of things in this complicated world. It can be used during search and rescue missions at disaster sites, and along with that, it will help robots navigate through space stations.


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