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Drone Racing Came to London’s Wembley Stadium

The European Rotor Sports Association flew in to the capital this week as machines soared around Wembley Stadium at speeds of 75mph (120km/h).

Drones buzzed around the iconic venue and further proved why the sport of drone racing is gaining popularity.

The racing was live streamed to spectators for the first time over EE’s 4G network at the stadium, with 4G cameras attached to the drones giving people a drone’s-eye-view.

The event was attended by 16-year-old Luke Bannister, from Somerset, who recently won £174,000 ($250,000) in the Drone Grand Prix in Dubai.

First Person View (FPV) drone racing involves live video being streamed to the pilot’s headset to enable split-second manoeuvres.

This perspective is usually only available to the team controlling the drone, however for the first time spectators in the stadium and online were also able to ‘ride’ around the stadium.

By attaching 4GEE Action Cams, additional footage was streamed from the drones to multiple screens around the stadium, live and in high definition.

The tournament also demonstrated Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Flight control system, which was incorporated into the racing drones to reduce their weight and improve the response times for the pilots.

A bespoke freestyle course was built by the European Rotor Sports Association (ERSA) inside the 90,000-capacity bowl, including slaloms through the players’ tunnel, bank turns around the corner flags, and barrel rolls above the royal box.

Luke Bannister said:

I started off flying remote control planes indoors and then I found a local club where they taught me how to fly these bigger planes and it progressed from there.

‘Two years ago I got my first set of goggles with an FPV set-up, which has a camera and a video transmitter and then started putting them in my planes flying them around.’

Drone racing is often compared to computer-gaming due to the use of a control pad – used to control the drone – and the use of FPV goggles, which look like a virtual reality headset.

Luke added: ‘It looks similar but there’s so many different aspects to drone racing.

‘You have to know how to build, solder, tune. There’s a lot more to it than just picking up a controller and doing it.’

The growth of drone racing is thought to be down to its accessibility, as people of all ages can buy a drone and start racing.

EE boss Marc Allera said: ‘This event is only possible thanks to our unique partnership with Wembley stadium.

‘Our 4G network here is the best in the world, offering unprecedented speeds perfect for drone racing, which relies on superfast connectivity.

‘This event is a world first – with our 4G Action Cams attached to the drones, live streaming direct to fans for the first time, we are helping to bring spectators closer than ever to this exciting new sport.’

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