Throughout history, humans have been racing every invention, method of conveyance, and mode of transportation. It was not long before we began building racing circuits as we continued seeking new ways to achieve our fix of adrenaline, using Roman chariots and horses to propel us forward.
War and competition are long-held beliefs that drive advancements in any field, and drone technology is no different. Here you will find all the information you need about drone racing.
In the 21st century, drone racing has become a popular sport. There’s a unique and intoxicating combination of PC gaming, gladiatorial motorsports, Hollywood movie effects, and, of course, adrenaline. Neither the origins of drone racing nor the purpose of drone racing are clear.
Most likely, a couple of bored guys crashed into one another, then challenged to a contest. Nevertheless, drone racing might be dangerous to bystanders, similar to street racing cars, which is why drone-racing venues have recently begun to appear. In addition, competition drones have started to appear, as expected.
Quadrotor drones are nearly all used for racing. Known as quads, these vehicles have the bare minimum equipment, low weight, and are built around true motorsport tradition. There are indeed different types of machinery in drone combat, from ‘production’ class machines to those used in Formula One.
Drone-racing pilots we spoke to all recommended starting with a small, inexpensive drone. With the Hubsan X4, you can practice various light maneuvers before moving on to a larger quadcopter.
There are three main reasons why this is important:
- Those who excel in sports make it seem so much easier than it truly is.
- When you first start racing your drone, you will crash a lot.
- It’s dangerous and expensive to crash a full-size machine, just like in motorsport.
The initials FPV are at the heart of all drone racing excitement. This is a first-person view, and this is how you will view and experience your drone race. A fixed camera is mounted on each drone, which transmits a live video signal to your lying goggles. As you bank, twist, and turn around the course, you feel the full effect of acceleration since the camera is not gyro-stabilized.
Viewing the world through goggles can only be described as similar to a Star Wars speeder bike chase between trees. Crashing is inevitable. It’s best to avoid flinching or jumping when you first hit and learn to avoid them later.
As soon as you master the basics of flying, you can move on to owning a full-race drone.
You have two choices:
- Buy a ready-to-fly (RTF) or almost-ready-to-fly (ARF) quadcopter.
- Purchase parts, such as a frame, motors, props, etc., and build it yourself.
It’s hard to say which option is better for you. The second option is great if you enjoy building things. It’s half the fun to make the quad for many people. Additionally, if you develop your quad, you will have the knowledge and skills to fix it when you crash. Crashing is inevitable, as we’ve said. Learn to live with it.
Who you can race
Quad drone racing consists of two main categories: Spec Class for beginners and Open Class for more advanced pilots. The Spec Class places restrictions on drone power and prop size to make things more equal and control costs.
An Open Class is precisely what its name implies. An actual 10-12 ton ballistic machine capable of hitting 128kph (80mph) can be found in this ‘unlimited’ air racing event.
A tougher task is finding a competitor. Although the sport is growing, it is largely unknown to the general public. There are a lot of online forums where you can discover racers in your area. Websites like www.fpvracing.tv have drone user groups who organize events around the world. Find nearby pilots to hook up with.
How racing works
You can get involved in many different types of competitions. Side-by-side drone racing is called rotorcross. Two or more pilots form a grid in this game, then race around a pre-set course in real-time. Simply put, the winner is the first to cross the finish line.
As of this writing, first-person-view drone racing series are pretty spread out, but new events are announced every week on Facebook and online communities.
A drone dragster race pits two drones against each other in a standing start drag race down a 100-meter track. At this point, those high-performance props and that high-discharge battery pack can come into their own. Unlike automotive drag racing, drone dragster races count the time from liftoff to touchdown without a lying finish.
Last but not least, we have time trials. A special stage rally for drones is just like street racing, where each drone competes against the clock, with the fastest time to win. The great thing about a time trial is that you can set one up yourself, and then you can record it with the video camera on the bike. Several online communities facilitate this process.
Video clips can be uploaded to the time-trial community, and your score can be added to a global leaderboard. In the series, a winner is announced every month.
It’s a great time to get involved in drone racing right now. In the early stages of any competitive sport, things move very quickly. Many people think it’s a good idea to wait and watch before investing time and money, but in our view, getting involved at the beginning of what is almost certain to become a global phenomenon is a much better way to go.
In addition to getting dirty at the coal face, getting hands-on experience in drone racing will give you invaluable experience in the technicalities, racecraft, and developing winning strategies and techniques that will turn you into a drone racing champion. To win, you have to be in it.