NASA just tested the limits of artificial intelligence by pitting an AI-operated drone against one flown by a man.
The test was supported by a Google-funded research project and took place at an indoor track in Pasadena, CA. The drones flew at speeds of approximately 40 miles per hour.
To ensure the race was as evenly matched as possible, scientists enlisted pilot Ken Loo (aka FlyingBear), who participates in the International Drone Racing League.
At first, Ken Loo was no match for his AI opponent. "This is definitely the densest track I've ever flown," Loo said in a press statement.
The AI drone appeared to learn the course quicker, enabling it to win the first few races. However, as the experiment went on, Loo managed to catch up. Intuition plays a significant role in flying so once Loo got the hang of navigating the track, he got more creative with it — which ultimately gave him an advantage over the AI-drone.
Rob Reid of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the project's task manager, said, "You can actually see that the AI flies the drone smoothly around the course, whereas human pilots tend to accelerate aggressively, so their path is jerkier."
That's part of the feel of flying. And the computer isn't programmed for that... yet. See the race in action in the video below to find out which one the drones took the trophy home.