Even a basic drone is a complicated piece of technology and machinery. A racing drone is even more high-tech, with lightweight components and custom-built parts inside. Here's what goes into the drones currently racing at the Red Bull Dr.One championships in Spielberg, Austria.
Aussie drone pilot Ross Kerker, who races under the name rekreK, explains in the video above how a first-person view (FPV) racing drone is different to the DJI you might buy off a JB Hi-Fi store shelf. In a lot of ways, the racing drone is simpler: there's no GPS and no self-levelling, with every input being entirely manual and made through the controller in Kerker's hands.
Here's five points that make up the fundamentals of a racing drone:
1. A racing drone's main purpose is to go as fast as possible with maximum agility to navigate corners.
2. It has four motors which are all individually controlled. By changing the speed of each motor it allows the pilot to pitch forwards, roll left and right, swivel, and incline or decline.
3. The drone is controlled by a remote with two sticks, each which has four channels. That allows us to make the drone go anywhere we want it to.
4. Since we do 0-150kph in less than a second, you can’t keep up with your normal eyes. A camera on the front films and sends a live video signal through an antenna at the back which is received by the goggles we wear. The goggles display the feed from the camera live, in first person.
5. The racing drones weigh around 500g and are all custom made. Every component is something I have selected or helped design so it will perform at its maximum.
Professional drone racing is a sport in its infancy. But that's exciting — it's like F1 without the rules. Companies like Red Bull are throwing cash at flashy championships on crazy tracks. We asked a pro racer exactly how to get into the sport and what it's like.