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Drone racing is like a real-life video game

Drone racing is like a real-life video game

Source: The Star

By: Laurent Bastien Corbeli

Forget package delivery. Drone owners have found a much more thrilling use for their radio-controlled flying machines: racing.

The hobby has soared in popularity over the last few months, with a rapid rise in the number of new tournaments across North America.

More than a hundred pilots converged in California last month for the United States’ first drone racing championship, and Canada is set to follow suit with a tourney in Collingwood on Friday.

Racing drones, unlike those flown by police, are small, weighing less than a kilogram, and can reach breakneck speeds — more than 100 km/h.

They’re controlled differently, too. Before a race starts, pilots don video goggles that let them see what the drone sees.

“The whole idea of putting on a set of goggles and flying this thing is like nothing else,” said Paul Dowling, the owner of Autobotix, a store that specializes in racing drones in Toronto.

“You are flying it. You will crash. You will feel like you crashed. It’s not uncommon to see someone flying and see them fall over when they crash.”

Jason Ambeault, project manager at a tech company, discovered drone racing after watching a YouTube video last December that showed a dozen UAVs whizzing through a forest in France. As an avid gamer, the feeling of immersion from a first-person perspective was a huge draw, he said.

“I’ve always been interested in remote-control cars and airplanes, from my great uncle years and years ago,” he said. “It’s like being in a real-life video game, basically.”

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