Drone racers from across Canada will gather in Edmonton on July 30-31 at the Northlands EXPO Centre during this year’s K-Days Tech Life program for the inaugural Canadian Drone Racing Championship.
Racers can enter into as many as four classes to compete in thrilling first-person view (FPV) heat races, putting their skills to the test.
Here’s how drone racing works: A mini-quadcopter is equipped with a small video camera and transmitter that wirelessly sends a live feed from the drone to a first person view headset worn by the racer. As a result, the racers experience an immersive perspective from the pilot seat of the drone while racing their way through a three-dimensional track of flags and gates at speeds up to of 60 miles per hour. That makes for some exciting footage.
The event promises to be fun for any level of racer, from beginner to pro. And as you might have guessed, it’s a great spectator experience as well.
“When you hear the drones racing and are able to see in person how fast they’re going, you can’t help but want to learn more and try it out yourself,” says CDR development member Steve Kordyban, likening the atmosphere to a rally car race. “When there are multiple racers pushing through the track at the same time it’s really exciting. The racers have to process and make split second decisions while constantly thinking ahead about the next stretch of track – it’s something that requires a lot of skill and tests the minds ability to block out distractions.”
“The tournament is about fun and connecting the Canadian drone racing community,” says Kordyban. “There is a growing number of small local groups across Canada that meet up to race together out of cities like Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal, and Toronto. This is a chance to bring some of those Canadian drone racers to one location where they can meet each other and race. It’s also an opportunity for people to discover drone racing and learn more about it.”
To provide the live play-by-play commentary, CDRL has conscripted Joe Scully as the race director. “He’s kind of considered to be the John Madden of drone racing,” explains Kordyban. “He will officiate and call the racing, while helping to educate attendees about drone racing – Scully brings world stage experience having been involved with some of the sport’s biggest events to date, he’s been a huge help and is a known Canadian name among the drone racing community.”
Awareness is a major component of the tournament, considering that the drone industry – let alone drone racing – is only beginning to emerge onto the market and into public consciousness.
PwC expects that the global UAV market will be worth $127 billion by 2020. That isn’t lost on regulators like Transport Canada, which plan on unveiling new regulations around drone use next year.
Kordyban sees the proliferation of drone racing as a positive.
“There’s an educational component to drone racing. You quickly learn about radio frequencies, video signals, circuitry, controllers, programming logic and soldering. There’s a knowledge base that is eagerly shared among racers – it’s an example of the openness of the community and the support available to help others learn.”
Image credits: Canadian Drone Racing, taken during Drone Fair Calgary at SAIT on June 19, 2016.