It’s been rocketing in popularity recently, and the video, shot in early July at the Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2017, will leave no doubt as to why. The event was billed as the largest indoor drone racing event in Asia, and drone pilots from around the world competed for the tournament title. The competition centered on flying First Person View (FPV) drone technology in daily “knockout” tournaments. Pilots wore goggle devices to give them an exclusive view of the race course as their drone flew through. That course can be hazardous to drone health: many drones crashed as they sped through the long loop of brightly-lit tracks and checkpoints, with its intentionally-designed sharp turns.
Even bigger was an event held last year on an outdoor course in Dubai. Hosted by Skydive Dubai, the first World Drone Prix was held in March 2016 and saw over 150 teams competing for a cash prize of a quarter-million dollars. The course featured a series of illuminated hoops and extremely challenging twists and turns on a specially-designed, three-dimensional aerial track called the “Rollercoaster.” An advanced GPS tracking system was employed to ensure that the drones remained within the five-meter diameter of the track. As part of a four-person team, pilots used a real-time visor device that enabled them to navigate via their drone’s onboard camera from a first-person viewpoint. Other personnel on each team included a navigator, a pit-stop attendant and a technician; the race was intentionally designed to cover more ground than a drone’s battery life could withstand, necessitating a Fomula-1 style pit-stop for refueling.
Perhaps most incredibly of all, first place in both events went to a British teenager, 15-year-old Luke Wolferstan-Bannister (or Banni, as he’s known in the drone racing world). If you want to see more, head on over to Banni’s YouTube page, where he regularly posts videos of his drone-flying exploits.