Compete internationally in “Swarm and Search AI Challenge”

January 31, 2019

A collaborative challenge between the Wright Brothers Institute, the Air Force Research Lab and the United Kingdom Defence Science and Technology Laboratory will explore new, efficient and resilient ways to plan complex drone search and rescue missions.

The “Swarm and Search AI Challenge: 2019 Fire Hack” will feature concurrent challenges in the US & UK, with a final showdown March 29-31 between the top 10 teams from each country. The top three winning teams from each country will receive cash prizes and learn about upcoming funding opportunities.

The highest scoring solution will be showcased at the 2019 AUVSI Conference and the UK Embassy Showcase in Washington D.C.

The theme of this challenge revolves around mapping wildfires. It assumes that improved mission planning, and the ability to react to dynamic changes, has the potential to minimize damage and save lives.

Solutions spawned by the challenge may also apply to defense applications.

Teams will work remotely via a closed, online collaboration platform to explore different fire map scenarios using Air Force-licensed software. All teams will benefit from exposure to new markets and a chance to test their technology against their competition.

AFRL and DSTL are utilizing this innovative approach to find the best artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML) algorithms that embody efficiency and resiliency. Both labs benefit by discovering and engaging with new partners.

“It is fantastic to be able to work with DSTL on this project. The activity fits right into both countries’ desire to approach research differently, and involves non-traditional, innovative thinkers as partners and most importantly get results faster,” Mick Hitchcock, AFRL program manager said in a press release. “The competition is not between the two countries, but to highlight the ability to rapidly work together on tough problems.”

“Swarming UAS is rich with innovation and we are looking to solve perceived problems and invent new ways of controlling swarms of drones. There is also a number of Science and Technology (S&T) challenges already commissioned in this area that link closely with the proposed outputs from this challenge,” Timothy Wright, DSTL’s Aerospace Systems Group Leader said in the release.

U.S. registration is open through Feb. 26, 2019. The online competition concludes March 15, 2019. For more information, visit