How we won our company DeepRacer league and qualified for AWS re:Invent

Thursday, November 7, 2019

The story of how a team of software developers from Belfast fought through a tough field of 64 to win the top prize in the Liberty Mutual league - a trip to AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas.

As told by Glenn Horan from Team Outrun, who says DeepRacer is a really exciting spectacle; a great soft introduction to Machine Learning and just how powerful it can be. 

On 30 October 2019 our fastest model ran a blistering lap of 7.61 seconds, to land us a place at the AWS DeepRacer world final at AWS re:Invent 2019 in Las Vegas. For us, who’d worked so hard on this for the previous 3 months, it was a dream come true.

This is the story of our journey along with the lessons we’ve learned along the way and some advice for others on how to succeed at setting good physical lap times in DeepRacer.

The Beginning

We work for Liberty Information Technology (LIT) which has the backing of global insurance heavyweight Liberty Mutual. Both companies have a reputation of pushing the boundaries of innovation for their products and encourage their staff to do the same day to day. They are also huge advocates of AWS and are keen to get their hands on and start using any new technologies or services that Amazon add to their already extensive repertoire.

As part of a big push in the field of machine learning, Liberty Mutual invited staff to take part in a global company DeepRacer league. The wording of the initial communications suggested that they only expected a small number of entrants, but before long there were around 52 teams entered from the UK, Ireland and around the US, each with five members. This was no doubt helped by the huge prize up for grabs — a trip to Las Vegas for AWS re:Invent 2019 to represent the company on the world stage and a chance to lift the coveted DeepRacer championship cup.

To read more and find out about Glenn's winning advice, check out his Medium blog.