It’s finally time to have a fun blog on drones. Whereas the first five blogs were more about the restrictions of drones, this blog addresses the fun sport of drone racing. For the most part, we dodge the restrictions. Like anything associated with drones, restrictions are leaking into drone racing.
One article described drone racing as being an unground sport mostly due to the uncertainty of air space usage. The other restriction in racing is similar to that of my four wheeling days where a lot of time was spent keeping the trails open rather than enjoying the sport. After joining a local meetup.com group it was apparent the drone clubs also spend a lot of time going to public hearings on drone usage. That’s it for restrictions. Let’s get to the fun part.
Drone racing is different than traditional RC flying. Most of drone racing is done in FPV or first person view. Drones are quadcopters that are more maneuverable than RC planes so they can traverse obstacle courses. This sets the stage for some very interesting flying.
FPV essentially moves you from ground based observation flying to the seat of the aircraft itself. FPV is accomplished by viewing the drone’s flight through a set of goggles that reproduce video the drone takes and sends live. The goggles sprout antennae and resemble Calvin’s Spaceman Spiff head piece from the comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes”. FPV goggles can also be worn by event observers who tap into the drone’s video feed thus expanding the sport into the audience through advances in technology.
The act of flying via FPV should make for some interesting youtube videos. Remember that a ground based pilot is maneuvering a remote vehicle. Although the pilot’s input is purely visual, the pilot’s output goes beyond joystick control to a number of body movements, contortions, and voice projections that are created while the trying to maneuver the drone as if it were their own body.
Drone racing is getting intense as prize money elevates and sponsors enter the game. Like BMX bikes and skateboards, pimply faced enthusiasts are becoming industry legends overnight with their accomplishments. The field is wide open for those willing to learn how to program, build, and fly. This should appeal to engineers who may have an advantage from a technical standpoint. Then again we may not as I often find my highly educated ego deflated when I have to have a child figure out my Android for me. This isn’t the first ego damage suffered as I often resorted to “Administration Assistants” to explain how to navigate functions on copy machines as they grew in technical content.
Drone racing is similar to monster truck racing in ways. The participants assist each other along. After crashes and the associated ribbing, parts are donated along with advice and help with repairs. I found that the RC racing world offered some of this yet there was more isolation due to the desire not to enable a competitor.
Regardless of the current state of drone racing, a sport has been developed that will most likely expand as quickly as the drone market and growing number of drone-related websites. Weather will be a factor however vacant buildings are options as indoor flying grows. With the recent state of the
world’s economy, there are many vacant buildings available so the options are at this time mainly limited by the restrictions of our lawsuit happy society.
Blogs over, time to fly!
- “FPV First Person View Video: The fast and furious world of underground drone racing, NICK LAVARS, JUNE 11, 2015.
- “The new, underground sport of first-person drone racing,”by David Stock (UK) – Aug 16, 2015 10:25am MDT
Other Drone articles by Scott Deuty