And the winner is… Robots! (again)

You can check another box in the “robots do it better than humans” column; this time, it’s drone racing.


If you have never seen a drone racing tournament, you really should check it out. The fastest racers in the world, each piloting a small, high-speed drone, using a remote control and a pair of futuristic-looking VR goggle that allows them to see the race through the drone’s point of view. Watching these racers go through corners at breakneck speed is just thrilling!

Last year Autonomous quadrotors from Davide Scaramuzza's Robotics and Perception Group at the University of Zurich (UZH) demonstrated their superiority over the World’s fastest racers. However, it didn’t seem like a fair competition since the drones depended on motion-capture technology to deliver high-resolution location information in real-time, together with a computer sending control instructions from the security and comfort of a nearby workstation.

In other words, it wasn’t the drones flying; it was a central computer.

This month we got a fair and balance rematch. Three top drone racers flew to Zurich to compete again, but no motion capture device was used this time. Instead, drones and people race each other as quickly as they can around a drone racing circuit using their own vision systems and computers (or brains).

It was a fair fight, but the robot drones won once more. Actually, one of the autonomous drones completed one lap of the course In 5.3 seconds which was astonishingly 1.8 seconds per lap quicker than Thomas, who has previously won the MultiGP International World Cup for FPV drone racing.

So, much like in chess, GO, or starcraft, humans are no match for the machines.


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