If you missed out on Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2017, you will be kicking yourself as it really took off there, literally. At the exhibition, there were ‘Experience Halls’ which focussed on four main themes; sports, lifestyle, entertainment and learning, and more importantly included the increasingly popular drones.
Not just any drone performance took the centre stage at the show though; it was the drone races that wowed the crowds. The event was billed as the largest indoor drone racing event in Asia, and drone pilots from around the world competed for the tournament title.
The competition centred on flying First Person View (FPV) drone technology in daily ‘knockout’ tournaments.
Safety was ensured, and goggle devices were worn by pilots, but this also gave them an exclusive view of the race course as their drone flew through.
Although a privilege and accomplishment to take part in the drone race, not all the drones made it out unscathed - the course proved to be hazardous, especially for the weaker drones. Many of the drones did crash as they sped through the brightly-lit but complicated, long and looping tracks and checkpoints, which had intentionally sharp turns within its design.
The attendees of the show watched on as the world leading pilots competed in the Drone Racing Competition. Drones and drone racing have been sky rocketing in popularity, and the drone races at the MCW were not the peak of drone coverage, as at an event in Dubai last year, there was an even bigger outdoor drone course.
Hosted by Skydive Dubai, the first World Drone Prix was held in March 2016 and saw over 150 teams competing for a cash prize of a $250,000. Featuring a course with a series of illuminated hoops and extremely challenging twists and turns on a specially-designed, three-dimensional aerial track called the ‘Rollercoaster’, this event took off.
An advanced GPS tracking system was employed to ensure that the drones remained within the five metre diameter of the track. As part of a four-person team, pilots used a real time visor device that enabled them to navigate via their drone’s onboard camera from a first-person viewpoint.
There were other members on each team including a navigator, a pit-stop attendant and a technician, which were needed as the race was intentionally designed to cover more ground than a drone’s battery life could withstand, necessitating a Fomula-1 style pit-stop for refuelling.
Thinking about the difficulty of the course, and the talent that participated, it came as a pleasant surprise to most people that first place in both events was awarded to 15 year old Luke Wolferstan-Bannister from Britain, (or as he is referred to in the drone world, Banni).
Click here to view Banni’s YouTube page which includes many drone-flying exploits.