Making drones and autonomous ground vehicles collaborate with each other, thanks to localization and navigation solutions based on Artificial Intelligence algorithms, to carry out complex missions in the absence of human or GPS satellite guidance. This is the main challenge of Leonardo's Drone Contest, which also took place this year in Turin. The team from Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna won the victory in this second edition, the first stage of a cycle of challenges that will end in 2025.
The collaborative approach between platforms constitutes the key element of a new combined system capable of significantly improving awareness of the scenario in which one operates, accelerating the decision-making process, reducing intervention times in the event of an emergency, thanks to greater effectiveness and operational efficiency.
These are solutions that may find applications in complex contexts, such as the inspection of areas subject to natural disasters, but may also be used to carry out inspections of sites that are difficult to access by other means or by emergency service personnel and for general activities. surveillance in risk areas. The involvement of Leonardo's skills in the field of platforms (helicopters and aircraft) also demonstrates the interest in importing part of the logic developed in experimental scenarios on a larger scale in the near future.
In addition to promoting the development of AI applied to drones (aerial and terrestrial), the event - conceived by Leonardo in collaboration with seven Italian universities - aims to encourage the creation of a system of national experts, capable of bringing together the technological capabilities of large companies, universities, SMEs, spin-offs and national start-ups.
Competing yesterday in Leonardo's Piedmont headquarters were the Polytechnic of Turin, the Polytechnic of Milan, the Alma Mater Studiorum-University of Bologna, the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna of Pisa, the University of Rome Tor Vergata, the University of Naples Federico II and, new entry, the Polytechnic of Bari. Behind the winning team, the Polytechnic of Turin ranked and in third place was the University of Rome Tor Vergata, which also won the Jury Prize.
The Drone Contest is also gradually attracting the attention of foreign university institutions, which this year for the first time have expressed interest in attending as observers, with a view to internationalizing the event. Among the novelties of this edition, a larger and more complex competition field, capable of testing the Artificial Intelligence solutions developed by the different teams and verifying their level of maturity.
With the Drone Contest, Leonardo sponsors a research contract in each of the seven universities for the three-year period 2023-2025. Launched in 2019, the first Leonardo Drone Contest has been divided over the years into increasing levels of difficulty and has led to the entry of students and their research activities within the company.