AWS bares DeepRacer Women’s League winners for PH

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Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently unveiled the winners of the recently concluded local version of the AWS DeepRacer League event, which is exclusive for women.

The top three racers – Patricia Dorothy Manalang from Asia Pacific College, Paulyn Sophia Yu from Mapua University, and Trishia Nicole Concepcion from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines — will be representing the country on October in the grand finals for the entire Asean region.

The AWS DeepRacer League is the first autonomous racing league that is set on the global stage. It introduces an advanced machine learning technique called reinforcement learning through a virtual and autonomous 3D racing simulator.  

With reinforcement learning, the players’ 1/18th scale car (DeepRacer or DeepRacer Evo) learn complex behaviors and even make short-term decisions even without labeled training data.

Manalang, the first placer for the Philippine leg of the AWS DeepRacer Women’s League, had no prior knowledge on machine learning or reinforcement learning before competing. In fact, her winning model was trained for five hours and it was the first one that she designed.

Since the competition does not require any machine learning skills from participants, students around the country had the opportunity to be exposed in the technology behind ML-powered autonomous driving.

“It was a fun experience for me and I want to learn continuously. I hope that with this initiative, more young women will be encouraged to take IT/CS as their course in their college, to let them know that the IT industry is not only for guys, but also for gals who are interested and passionate with technology,” Manalang said.

For the Asean version of the tournament, the main virtual circuit race formats to be used would be head-to-head and time trial.  In head-to-head, each racer will need to complete laps while simultaneously avoiding AWS bot cars while time trial racing will determine the winner based on who completed a specified number of laps the quickest and stayed on the track. Time penalties will be imposed instead of resets whenever a racer foes off-track.

In order to reach a larger audience, AWS regional head of education, research, healthcare, and not-for-profit Asia Pacific public sector Vincent Quah said the league will also be streamed on Twitch, a livestreaming platform dedicated for gamers.

The tournament is also part of the larger AWS program called Build On, Asean 2020 – a partner program that educates Asean students on cloud and AWS technology.

 “Everything we do has to be online. This is really a very good mechanism for us to allow participation to happen virtually.  While we have done it at a country level, what’s going to happen next is that all the country winners will come together in October to compete against each other,” Quah said.

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