Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), also known as the World Air Sports Federation organized and administered a competition that was designed to test the flying abilities of drone pilots.
With a whopping prize of US $24,000 for the winner along with a gold medal as well as a separate championship organized for women, the four day competition required the participants to act as pilots virtually as each participant would be equipped with a pair of goggles that are linked to the camera mounted on the drone while they navigated the drone through the path or racing track set by the organizers. This usage of goggles would heighten the experience of flying a drone and provide the participants a much better control of their equipment, at the expense of having the “headless flight” system of quadcopters mitigated to some extent.
The competition is organized every year, with several changes to the event’s rules and race tracks. This year’s race track spanned a stunning 650 meter, designed in the shape of a Chinese knot. The same race course was lit with 7000 meters of LED lights, creating a stellar and exciting view for both the participants and the audience.
The Chinese media agency, Xinhua, reports over 10,000 people attending the event to watch the races and demonstrations at the Shenzhen Universiade Centre Stadium where the event was conducted.
The main event was participated in by over 127 competitors of different ages from different countries. With the event coming to a close on 4th November on Sunday, the winner was announced to be 15 year old Australian teenager, Rudi Browning.
“I dreamed of this, and it is incredible that it has come true. I couldn’t be happier,” Browning said at the announcement ceremony where he was awarded the winner of the event.
With teams from all over the world competing in different modules of the event, the Australian team also claimed the title of the best team in the event. The team coach David Crepaldi said, “I’m very proud of the boys … the team pulled together and everyone played their part.”
The top women’s prize was claimed by Wanraya Wannapong, an 11-year-old racer from Thailand. She described her experience regarding the competition, “I loved this track a lot. I liked flying it at night, it was a lot of fun.”
In sprint tests and demonstrations, a number of pilots attempted to break the world record for fastest speed recorded on a drone flying over 100 meters in displacement. Of 62 pilots, the Swiss pilot, Timothy Trowbridge was able to hit an average speed of 114.2382 kilometers per hour to claim the record along with US $3,000.
The secreterary general of FAI, Susanne Schodel said that the championship showed “the best that drone racing has to offer.”