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The UAV industry has officially hit the next level of awesome.
Airgonay, a drone flying club in the French Alps, hosted the first drone racing competition.
Held in Argonay, France, just north of Annecy, the club organized a 24-person first-person-view FPV flying training and competition.
Club president (and virtual reality developer) Herve Pellarin gained support from the town’s council, sectioning off part of the French Alps forest for his gathering. He and other club members built a 150-meter course, with twists and turns, low branches, and random swaths of light.
When it comes to recreational UAV piloting, we’re taught not to ever lose a line of sight of our drone. In FPV racing, it’s different, because you’re actually looking through special video glasses that are connected to a micro camera on the front of your drone.
If it sounds like it might be tough to do…it is. The UAV units are much more compact than typical consumer models you’d normally see, like the DJI Phantom quadcopter, and they’re shaped for racing. In the Airgonay event, drones reached speeds of up to 40 mph.
Mistakes are easy to make.
The streaming video is not HD, so piloting the looped circuit requires keen instinct and memory, similar to that required of a bobsled or slalom skiing athlete.
Pellarin sees a huge future in the sport of FPV flying. He hopes that, by this time next year, multiple courses around the world will be set up, and an international drone racing competition will take place.
Now, if you’ll excuse me while I go watch the pod racing scene from Star Wars Phantom Menace.