Where did drone racing come from?
From a visual perspective drone racing could be bigger than football, say its supporters.
It might be difficult to picture how this might all work but if you can cast your mind back to the excitement of the scene in Star Wars when the Millennium Falcon is speeding towards the death star through a small tunnel dodging obstacles as it goes. This is what first-person drone racing could be like for you, and it’s coming to the UK. The sport began in Australia in 2014.
The UK’s first ever official drone race will happen as part of London Tech week in 2017. This will be arranged by the Drone Racing League who have been successfully hosting events around the world with some of the 2016 races available to watch on ESPN and Sky Sports. And of course, clips are starting to appear on Youtube.
The drones look a bit more tricked out than your standard camera drone and are normally adorned with numerous colourful LEDs so that they are easy to watch (or avoid) when travelling at high speed. These things can move. And faster than your average street drone.
How does a drone race look? Perhaps the best way is to see for yourself by watching this video:
This circuit filmed in Las Vegas can also give you an idea of the kind of thing that you can expect:
How is this different to people racing say radio controlled planes? The main difference is that the pilot may lose sight completely of the drone during the race. But, will remain plugged into the camera on the drone remotely via their goggles so he or she can pilot the drone as if they were sitting right on top of it. This is called ‘First Person View’ or FPV with drone racing this is often achieved using full-face goggles which puts you in the seat so to speak and turns you into a mini superhero!
This obviously increases the fun factor and lends itself to some great times for competing for drone pilots. Who now are part of a quickly growing brand new sport.
The first ever US national drone race took place in Sacramento California last year with a $25k prize. The sport is already interesting some large commercial backing as it is considered to be something that could become the next Nascar racing, if not even bigger. Some of the action involves drones speeding along at over 90mph, so it makes for a great spectator sport. ESPN has partnered with the Drone Nationals in the US, so things only look set to grow.
Last year Dubai held the World Drone Prix which boasted over $1 million in cash prizes. There were drone racing competitions in 12 different countries.
A famous pilot known online as Charpu has become the unofficial poster boy for the new sport, real name Carlos Puertolas Maneuvers. Watching the famous ‘Left Behind’ video of him expertly flying a drone in and out of an abandoned hospital at 80mph you can see why he has risen to the top so quickly:
Charpu has an extensive selection of FPV videos on his Youtube Channel.
This is obviously something that you do not want to meet coming the wrong way towards you on a dark night! Check this site out – dronenationals.com – to find out more about the current US drone racing scene.
Want to know what it looks like being a drone racing pilot? Here is footage from Australia: