An AI-powered drone dethrones world champion pilots
(Web Desk) – Swift, an AI-powered drone, made history by beating the world’s best human pilots in the adrenaline-pumping field of high-speed drone racing.
Swift, the brainchild of researchers at the University of Zurich, left its mark by winning 15 out of 25 races.
The race pushes drones to a staggering 50 mph (80 km/h), subjecting them to mind-boggling accelerations of up to 5g, an intensity that would render most people unconscious.
Elia Kaufmann, a key figure behind Swift’s development, couldn’t hide her excitement, exclaiming: “Our result is the first time an AI-powered robot has beaten a human champion in a sport that was created for people and by people.
Drone racing, viewed from the pilot’s perspective, involves maneuvering the drone through gates on a designated course while avoiding any potential collisions. Pilots rely on live video from cameras mounted on their drones to guide their movements. In an exciting competition, the AI system Swift went up against three drone racing champions, Thomas Bitmatta, Marvin Schapper and Alex Vanover.
While the human pilots had a week of training on a real racetrack, the Swift was thoroughly trained in a virtual environment that was painstakingly replicated. State-of-the-art deep reinforcement learning techniques were used to train Swift. This involved discovering the most effective teams through a process of trial and error.
In the learning process, Swift simulated hundreds of crashes. The virtual setup allowed scientists to restart training if necessary. Elia Kaufmann, lead author of the study, explained: “To ensure that the simulator accurately reflects real-world consequences, we developed a method to fine-tune the simulator using real data.”
This outstanding achievement of an artificial intelligence system dominating a physically demanding sport demonstrates the inexorable progress of artificial intelligence in various fields. Swift’s victory is a testament to the amazing capabilities of AI and sets the stage for more exciting competition in the fast-paced world of drone racing.
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