Remember those pod racing scenes in Star Wars? Back then it seemed like a surreal concept that people would race small, futuristic aircrafts. Fast forward to 2016 and it seems as though that is slowly becoming a reality. Albeit without a young Anakin Solo in the pilot seat. Drone racing is the next big thing, and we can’t get enough of it.
This is something which started off as a bit of casual fun. Friends would take their drones out and race them, pulling off tricks as they went. It was Airgonay, a French model aircraft association, which managed to bring this little bit of casual fun into the limelight. They filmed one of the races taking place before posting it online. It managed to stir up quite a bit of attention, with more than 2 million views since last year.
First Person View Drones
Drone racing isn’t just about flying your unmanned aircraft through the air and hoping for the best, however. What is particularly special about this bit of fun is that the pilots wear goggles, that give them a first-person-view of whatever their drone sees. It’s like they have been shrunk down to fit into the cockpits, thanks to a camera attached to the front of each craft. It’s quite an interesting effect and something that has drawn in plenty of fans since its inception last year. FPV pilots may look a little peculiar with these goggles on their faces, however there’s no denying you’ll experience a real rush experiencing the aerial view from your drone.
Up A Level
What started off as a casual bit of fun is quickly taking off (excuse the pun). As more FPV drone racing videos were put online, more and more people wanted to take part and compete. And so, the first official drone racing competition was born – the US National Drone Racing Championships. Last summer it’s thought that over 120 drone pilots from around the world attended this two-day event at the California State Fair. There were prizes for the fastest five-lap times, and also a special freestyle heat for those who are FPV professionals. Judges would score the pros on their maneuvers, including how inventive and intricate they were.
This first international competition managed to land drone racing on the map, and since then there have been nationals in the UK, Canada, and Germany. Rotorsports, who organised the first event in California, are now planning a world championship in Hawaii in October 2016. Oh, and a whopping $200,000 in prize money! It’s thought that over 300 pilots from all over the world will attend this competition, in an effort to become the first ever Drone Racing World Champion.
So, there are big things to come for this new and exciting sport. And, with the announcement of mini-drones people can sit in at the CES this year, it won’t be too long before we’re having actual pod races just like Star Wars. Well, we can dream, right?