Amazon wants to encourage more newcomers to the world of machine learning, and has given a new spin to an old idea to try and make it happen.
Three years ago, the company created AWS DeepRacer, a racing competition where enthusiasts from all over the world would develop a 1/18 scale race car and power it with a machine learning model.
The goal was to help more people get in on machine learning in a fun and engaging way, however two problems quickly arose: firstly, the competition was overrun by professionals, giving newbies and enthusiasts very little to hope for in the competition, and secondly, the Covid-19 pandemic forced the competition into a virtual environment.
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In an attempt to tackle these issues (at least the first one), AWS has now introduced two separate divisions for the competition – Open and Pro - with the first being open to everyone, and Pro for professional developers.
The new version of AWS DeepRacer starts on March 1 and lasts until October 31. At the end of every month, the top 10% of the competitors move to the Pro division, where they'll remain for the rest of the season.
As explained in the blog post announcing the changes, after every month, the top 16 racers in the Pro division are pitted against each other in a live race console. The winners will get the chance to compete in a live race, the 2021 Champions Cup, that should take place at the re:Invent 2021 event, if Covid-19 permits. All expenses for the trip are covered by Amazon.
By moving the potential pros from the competition and into a league of their own early on, Amazon hopes to keep the fun going for newbies and enthusiasts. It also says that this new format opens up five times more opportunities to win various rewards, compared to previous seasons. Pro division racers can win DeepRacer Evo cars and AWS DeepRacer merchandise such as hats and T-shirts, the company added.
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