Watch NASA AI Drone Take On A Skilled Human Pilot

Posted: Nov 25 2017, 9:04am CST | by , Updated: Nov 25 2017, 9:13am CST, in News | Latest Science News

Watch NASA AI Drone Take on a Skilled Human Pilot
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Human pilot narrowly beats Google funded NASA AI

Researchers at NASA JPL have recently tested the performance of drones controlled by artificial intelligence against a professional human pilot. While the robot could not beat the human, the race nevertheless reaffirmed the arrival of a remarkably improved form of artificial intelligence.

The competition was held on October 12 and involved a timed trial between their NASA AI and world-class drone pilot Ken Loo. The drones operated by both sides had to fly at high speeds while avoiding obstacles.

The AI drones were especially designed for the race and used cameras to track their position. A map is also incorporated into the system, so the drones cannot deviate from their path. The NASA drones could fly as fast as 80 mph in a straight line. But in the obstacles, they could only travel at speed of 30 or 40 mph. The test was conducted in NASA JPL Warehouse.

The drone controlled by human pilot flew faster and completed the task slightly quicker, but the autonomous drone was more consistent overall. It also did not experience exhaustion.

"We pitted our algorithms against a human, who flies a lot more by feel," said Rob Reid of JPL, the project's task manager. "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."

Although both drones started out at a similar speed, the human pilot became more creative and faster over the course of race. On average, human pilot completed official laps with 11.1 seconds. Autonomous drone, on the other hand, averaged 13.9 seconds.

“This is definitely the densest track I've ever flown," said Human pilot Ken Loo. "One of my faults as a pilot is I get tired easily. When I get mentally fatigued, I start to get lost, even if I've flown the course 10 times."

NASA’s AI drones are still not refined enough to topple human skills. The results, however, are encouraging and researchers are hoping that one day they could be piloting themselves around the Warehouse.

“Our autonomous drones can fly much faster," said Reid. "One day you might see them racing professionally!"

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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