The Fastest Drone in the World: How DRL Is Driving Innovation in the Drone Industry
BY Zacc Dukowitz18 July 2017
The Drone Racing League has been pushing the drone industry forward, often in leaps and bounds, since it first launched in January of 2016.
The most recent ground breaking accomplishment to come out of DRL is winning the Guinness World Record for the fastest drone in the world.
The tiny RacerX drone was clocked last week at a mind blowing 179.6 miles an hour. The drone weighs less than two pounds and its flight along a 100-meter course was officially observed and certified by the Guinness World Records.
For the coolness factor—not to mention the “how incredibly hard this must have been to pull off” factor—it’s important to note that earlier prototypes of the drone had burst into flames when hitting its highest point of acceleration, due to the amount of power being applied.
“The record-setting RacerX represents the culmination of years of technological innovation by our team of world class engineers, and we’re very excited to unveil the fastest racing drone on earth.”
– Nicholas Horbaczewski, DRL CEO and Founder
To set the record the DRL team needed to fly the RacerX back and forth across a course of 100 meters (328 feet), with the official record set as the average of the top speed achieved on each of those flights.
This means that although the RacerX achieved a speed of 179.6 mph, the official record is for an average of its speeds over the course, which is 163.5 mph (which still, as an engineer might say, super duper fast).
Here are some additional details and specs for the RacerX:
- 800 grams / 1.76 pounds
- 46,000 RPMs
- 10S (42V) Powertrain
- BeeRotor 80A (10S) ESCs / BLHeli with Multishot
- TMotor F80 2407 2500kv
- 1300mah 2 x 5S R-Line Tattu Lithium Polymer Batteries
Creating Tech that Changes the Industry: A Daily Activity at DRL
In a recent interview we did with Nicholas Horbaczewski, the CEO and Founder of the Drone Racing League, he explained that most of the technology needed to grow FPV racing into a mainstream sport literally didn’t exist when they began creating DRL a few years ago.
At the time, back in 2015, drone racing had achieved a great deal of underground popularity, but was held back from growing further by technological limitations.
Which is why Horbaczewski says that DRL is first and foremost a technology company, because, to build the league into what it is today, they had to build the technology to make it possible.
“We change the technology on the drones between every single race, and every time we change the tech it creates possibilities we’ve never seen before.”
– Nicholas Horbaczewski, DRL CEO and Founder
Here are a few examples of innovations and improvements DRL has come up with—in addition to building the world’s fastest drone—that have helped push FPV racing and the drone industry forward.
We were fascinated to hear about the improvements DRL has made in radio systems during our interview with Horbaczewski.
Not too long ago, radio systems for flying FPV drones were so limited that you simply could not do what is being done today in terms of audience sizes at events, and having several pilots flying simultaneously through complex courses.
As an example, Horbaczewski pointed to a recent DRL race in the Alexander Palace. 2,000 people were in attendance to watch the race, and six pilots flew through a complex course that involved multiple rooms, with drones flying in some cases up to just a kilometer away from the pilots.
Check out the race in the Alexander Palace:
This kind of complicated operation would have been been impossible not too long ago, because it used to be the case that having too many people near the radios interfered with the signal, and could take down the entire radio system.
People take this new technology for granted, but if DRL hadn’t invented it we literally could not have FPV racing on the scale we now do.
FPV Drones for Everyone
Not too long ago you couldn’t find many FPV racing drones or accessories at a price that would make them accessible for newbies.
Not so any more.
One of the innovations DRL, among others, has pushed forward is mainstreaming FPV racing on the consumer side, partnering with manufacturers to provide beginner FPV drones at an affordable price so that fans can also become pilots, without breaking the bank.
Thinking about getting into FPV racing? Make sure to check out this recent review we did of Force1 RC’s FPV Racing Kit.
Although Horbaczewski told us that DRL isn’t aggressively investigating alternatives to existing Lipo battery technology—which is what will probably be needed for us to find a significant extension to battery life—they have found ways to extend battery life considerably within the confines of existing technology.
Some of these innovations involve improving power extensions on board, and also working on making drones more aerodynamic to cut down on drag, thus optimizing the lifespan of the battery.
Some additional innovations made in the Racer 3, featured above, were to improve the onboard avionics, which allows it to fly with incredible precision, and to improve ESC technology so that more power can be driven through the power train more reliably.
Although these innovations are being made in the realm of sport, they have real-life implications for those using drones in commercial applications such as search & rescue, inspections, and aerial cinematography.
In case you didn’t already know, DRL’s 2017 season is in full season, and it is incredible. Learn more about where to watch—the next race is coming up soon on Wednesday night, 7/19, at 7pm EST in Munich.