Quadrotor Pod Racing

A group of multicopter enthusiasts from Argonay, France cordoned off a path through the forest and spent the day racing. The resulting video makes it look like a heck of a good time.

Twenty “drone” pilots all used first-person view (FPV) camera setups for complete immersion, racing at up to 50 kilometers per hour through a 150m course in the woods that was chosen for maximum thrills and spills. The track basically followed a footpath, but the pilots still had to be extremely alert to avoid natural obstacles (we call them “trees”). The narrator adds that the nearly random lighting and camera artifacts added an extra level of difficulty to the event.

After practicing a few times just to get around the track in one piece, they started racing each other in heats. On the final heat, at 3:40 in the video, five copters start off head-to-head and tear out into the woods. Of them, only two cross the finish line.

FPV drone crash scenes still make us wince a little bit. We wonder how many of the participants spent the next few nights in the repair bay.

Thanks to [Bradley Wilkinson] for the tip.

39 thoughts on “Quadrotor Pod Racing

  1. Cool! But awful that the video makes a reference to the pod race of episode 1 rather than the wood race scene from Return of The Jedi. Who does the speaker think he is fooling? We all here that it is you, behind all that french talk, Jar Jar.

      1. They are already, the only problem is that it gets very time consuming and expensive to maintain one if you don’t have the proper tools. A CNC and a basic electronics workbench is a must.

    1. Your comment made me think of the proliferating indoor karting facilities in my area. Those tend to have fairly open space (based on a sample size of one). Maybe that could be another revenue stream for them during “off” hours, presuming they have any.

  2. Depending on the quad’s design the time to repair may be quick. For example my tricopter is designed so zip ties and plastic spacers will break before anything expensive. In case of a crash most likely I should just have to replace some spacers, zip ties, and props. Though with that many people around and quads in the air I would say prop guards should be required.
    The 250mm size quads are becoming popular for this reason. Note, this should be legal in the US as long as you don’t fly above the tree line. The air space in the forest is not FAA regulated I believe. Someone can correct me if I am wrong.

      1. If you fly outside, you must register with the FAA if your ‘copter weighs more than 0.55 pounds, which with the cameras and FPV transmitters, etc., I’m sure these do. No more “exemption” as of 2016.

  3. Does anyone have some in-depth build logs of any of these setups? I want to learn more about the radio interfaces, video displays, and a couple of the ultra custom quads. Still, great idea, nice execution. I would like to organize something like this myself

  4. Well that looks like fun! I’d definitely add a pitch servo to the FPV camera to provide a more consistent forward view. Also tempted to bias the props forward so the body is level at some cruse speed and add some fairings. Anyone make an HDR FPV camera that deals better with flickering shadows?

  5. Hey I know some of the guys at Airgonay, you can ask me stuff if you want

    This style racing is getting more popular especially with the popularity of quads this year, especially miniquads (~250mm motor to motor) in the last 12 months. I’ve been to 2 competitions this year with sponsors, prizes etc. plus a bunch more informal events (in north america).

    The copters cost between $300-600 depending (it’s hard to make copters both cheap and good but it’s possible). and yes they get smashed up a lot. a LOT.

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