AWS DeepRacer virtual circuit goes live for ML autonomous racing competition

    Amazon has one of the largest cloud infrastructures on the planet and they’re lending some of their compute resources to advancing machine learning by hosting a competition called AWS DeepRacer.

    This competition is a battle fought between programmers and engineers using 1/18th scale four-wheel drive cars. These vehicles have a considerable amount of onboard hardware and software that enables the cars to travel around a variety of circuits without human intervention. Basically, this is the perfect competition for those who want to get into RoboRace.

    Today, Amazon has released the DeepRacer League Virtual Circuit. This means developers can now build and train their model, evaluating the result and rapidly iterating their vehicle’s programming virtually before unleashing them in the real world.

    Image credit: AWSonAir

    This is a global competition and at each of the events, models can be trained using reinforcement learning, and then race it around a track. The fastest racers and their lap times for each summit are shown on our leaderboards.

    As if developing an autonomous vehicle to race the fastest around a race track wasn’t exciting enough, there’s also amazing prizes on the line for the fastest time.

    The top entrant in the leaderboard each month will win an expenses-paid package to AWS re:Invent 2019, where they will take part in the League Knockout Rounds, with a chance to win the Championship Cup!

    There are a total of 28 League races in 2019, made up of 6 online races in the Virtual Circuit World Tour and 22 in-person races at the Summit Circuit events. The AWS event is happening now from April 30th until May 2nd in Sydney, held at the International Convention Centre (ICC).

    If this is all new to you, but you’re keen to learn, then you should check out Amazon’s training course, which is free and runs for 90 minutes [Signup here]

    To keep things interesting, Amazon are adding a new track each month, taking inspiration from famous race tracks around the globe, so that you can refine your models and broaden your skill set.

    Amazon is currently offering a 1/18th scale DeepRacer for A$587.76 which will be released on July 10th, 2019. The car features an Intel Atom Processor, 4GB RAM, 32GB Memory (expandable), 802.11ac WiFi, 4 MP camera with MJPEG. On-board there’s also 4x USB-A, 1x USB-C, 1x Micro-USB, 1x HDMI as well as an integrated accelerometer and gyroscope making for 1 smart car.

    That hardware needs power and the DeepRacer uses a 7.4V/1100mAh lithium polymer battery for driving the vehicle and an additional 13600mAh USB-C PD for compute.

    In terms of software, the car runs Ubuntu OS 16.04.3 LTS, Intel OpenVINO toolkit, ROS Kinetic. The DeepRacer can go up to a healthy 24km/h and is AWD. The advice from Amazon is to definitely start off slowly while the vehicle is learning.

    Here’s some examples of the competition entrants from other events.

    It seems Amazon actually made a couple of DeepRacer’s at full scale and they look amazing. Not exactly sure where you’d get to race them, but if you won a full-sized, working vehicle, that’s definitely a prize worth fighting for.

    Jason Cartwright
    Jason Cartwright
    Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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