If you've been thinking about getting into First Person View (FPV) drone racing but haven't a clue where to start, it might be a good idea to attend the 2017 DRL Allianz World Championship, which is finally making their way over to this side of the pond.
Matthew Evans, 27, a software developer from Worcester, is one of the UK's top five drone racers. He is also one of the 16 competitors that have qualified for the Drone Racing League (DRL), which runs the annual championship.
The competitors have been going head-to-head in five races held in Munich, Boston, Atlanta, New Orleans and Miami.
The six and final race, which decides the winner, will be held in London at Alexandra Palace on 13 June 2017. You can still buy tickets here.
"We came from just messing around in a field to semi-serious racing, and to go onto an international level, it's just different — you can't comprehend it until you're actually there, and then once it's all over, you wonder whether it really happened," he tells IBTimes UK.
Evans says that anyone can get into drone racing – the best thing for beginners to do is get a simulator game and practice on it as much as they can before going out to a safe, wide open space to pilot their drone, as drones break easily.
Gaining muscle memory by training your brain is key to being a great drone pilot. It's essential to really know your drone well, and that can only be achieved by practicing different moves with it so that you know the controls inside out, in case you encounter a trick racecourse that requires you to use moves you might not normally be familiar with.
To ensure that all the competitors have a level playing field, DRL has built its own drone – the DRL Racer 2, which is heavier and sturdier than most off-the-shelf and DIY kit-based FPV racing drones. It weighs 800g, features a 255mm carbon fibre frame, a single PCB containing all components, a Rotorgeek 20A electronic speed controller and four Cobra 2204 2,300kv motors that generate 3.3kg of thrust.
"It's a completely different style of racing. If you're doing a normal semi-competitive race, you'd be all on the ground and it's very much 2D, but with DRL, the races are 3D and you really have to master the quadcopter in all dimensions," says Evans.
"Because the quadcopter is heavier, you need to predict different things and you need to fly it differently to do the manoeuvres you need to get round the course."
DRL is currently the world's only global professional drone racing organisation. The inaugural world championship held last year featured races limited only to US cities and only a few channels carried the sport. However this year, the championship has branched out to the UK and Germany, and it will also be broadcast in 75 countries.