Apr 30, 2019 - Technology

Drone Racing League teams up with Lockheed Martin on autonomous drones

Lockheed Martin drones are on display during the 2019 SXSW Trade Show on March 12, 2019. Photo: Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP/Getty Images

In an attempt to drive interest and research into autonomous vehicles, the Drone Racing League and Lockheed Martin have partnered up to create the AlphaPilot competition.

How it works: 430 teams, each armed with an autonomous drone, are currently participating in qualifying rounds. Nine make the Artificial Intelligence Robotic Racing Circuit finals, where the winners will go home with $1 million. If a team's A.I. drone can also beat a human pilot head-to-head, they get an extra $250,000.

Why it matters: Autonomous drones are part of our future. And for them to be useful in places like disaster areas, they need to be able to fly fast, far and without human oversight.

  • Right now, that's a huge challenge, as they lack the ability to detect real-world environments and can be thrown off by something as simple as a shadow, which limits their top speed.
  • The hope is that the AlphaPilot competition leads to increased awareness about the future of not just autonomous drones, but all autonomous vehicles. And maybe even a technological breakthrough.

What's next

Bolton alleges in book that Trump tied Ukraine aid to investigations

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton alleges in his forthcoming book that the president explicitly told him "he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens," the New York Times first reported.

Why this matters: The revelations present a dramatic 11th hour turn in Trump's Senate impeachment trial. They directly contradict Trump's claim that he never tied the hold-up of Ukrainian aid to his demands for investigations into his political opponent Joe Biden.

Honoring Kobe Bryant: Sports stars, politicians and celebrities mourn NBA great

Kobe Bryant on court for the Los Angeles Lakers during the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest on All-Star Saturday Night, part of 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend at American Airlines Center in Dallas in February 2010. Photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Sports stars, politicians and celebrities paid tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a California helicopter crash alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others on Saturday. He was 41.

What they're saying: Lakers great Shaquille O'Neal said in an Instagram post of his former teammate, "There's no words to express the pain I'm going through now with this tragic and sad moment of losing my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie. I love you brother and you will be missed."

Go deeperArrow3 hours ago - Sports

What's next: Trump's broader travel ban

A sign for International Arrivals is shown at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Photo: Ted S. Warren/AP

President Trump is expected to announce an expanded travel ban this week, which would restrict immigration from seven additional countries — Nigeria, Myanmar, Sudan, Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan and Tanzania, per multiple reports.

  • The announcement would come on the third anniversary of Trump's original travel ban, which targeted Muslim-majority nations, per Axios' Stef Kight.