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Politecnico di Milano wins inaugural Leonardo Drone Contest

September 30, 2020  By  UAV Canada Staff

Leonardo held the first drone contest challenges in Turin on September 18 with the six universities. The program will include two more annual sessions with progressive innovation goals until 2022. (Photo: Leonardo)

The Politecnico di Milano won the first edition of the Leonardo Drone Contest, formatted as an Open Innovation Challenge, launched by Leonardo in collaboration with six Italian universities to promote the development of Artificial Intelligence for unmanned systems. The Polytechnic University of Milan, with about 42,000 students, is the largest technical university in Italy.

The September 18 challenges were held in Turin with the six universities, with each team focusing its entry around the work of one Ph.D student, including: the Politecnico di Torino; the Politecnico di Milano; Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna; Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies; Tor Vergata – University of Rome; and University of Naples – Federico II. As an addition honour, the University of Bologna, with PhD student Lorenzo Gentilini and Professor Lorenzo Marconi, was awarded the Special Jury Prize.

The digital award ceremony to recognize Politecnico di Milano’s achievements was attended by Italy’s Minister of Technological Innovation and Digitalization, Paola Pisano; the Minister of University and Research, Gaetano Manfredi; the President of the Piedmont Region, Alberto Cirio; the Mayor of Turin, Chiara Appendino; Leonardo’s CEO, Alessandro Profumo; and Leonardo’s Senior Vice President Unmanned Systems, Laurent Sissmann.


The winning project led by doctoral student, Gabriele Roggi of the Politecnico di Milano, aims to develop a drone equipped with autonomous driving and navigation capabilities. Under the supervision of Professor Marco Lovera, the team is developing systematic methods and tools for the design of on-board autonomous functions and a localization algorithm for motion planning and collision avoidance.

The first edition of the competition involved collaboration between industry and universities, implemented over months of work. The competition officially started in June 2019 and will ultimately involve three scheduled contests with the final one taking ending in 2022. Over the next two years, the doctoral students, supported by the professors and in collaboration with the university teams and Leonardo, will develop and propose more innovative capabilities applied to unmanned drone systems.

Leonardo explains the goal of the Leonardo Drone Contest is to create synergies between development and academic research in the fields of Artificial Intelligence, Computer Vision, Sensor Fusion and Machine Learning for the development of technologies for applied artificial intelligence to unmanned systems and the birth of an ecosystem that involves large companies, universities, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), spin-offs and startups.

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