Leonardo to start new phase of drone contest in coming months

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Aerospace and defense company Leonardo is to start its next drone technology innovation contest during the spring with teams from six Italian universities.

The Leonardo Drone Contest will be kicked off with a symposium to be held in March, April or June and will be focused on the development of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for unmanned drones.

A final, which will be held at Leonardo’s Aircraft headquarters in Turin, Italy, will consist of a race between the teams during which unmanned drones will cooperate with sensors on the ground to interact with their environment and perform a mission that will be scored and judged.

The contest aims to encourage the development of technologies such as teaming / swarming, objective based task allocation, drone interaction with external agents, visual inertial odometry, autonomous trajectory planning, identification and tracking, computer vision and autonomous decision making. It also aims to encourage links between industrial development and academic research and create an ecosystem of large companies, universities, small and medium enterprises, spin-offs and start-ups for the use of AI in unmanned drones.

During the competition challenges will involve drones collecting by image capture information about the best landing location in a race against time. The drone will have to autonomously move between buildings and areas with reduced visibility to complete its mission.

Cooperation with sensors in the course will be required to identify all objects in the shortest possible time and begin to develop collaboration skills between the drone and other platforms, thus preparing the ground for the 2022 contest, which will introduce a main challenge of collaborative flight.

Six universities are participating in the contest: Politecnico di Milano, Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna, Politecnico di Torino, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, “Tor Vergata” University of Rome and University of Naples “Federico II”.

Politecnico di Milano and the University of Bologna won the first drone competition during September last year.

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before eventually becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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