Drone racing is a mushrooming trend in Australia, catering to a growing band of enthusiasts looking to fulfill their need for speed. The races, organised by underground ‘leagues’, generally take place in rundown warehouses, farms, and go-kart tracks in the fringe suburbs of various cities.
The relatively unknown sport is called FPV (first person racing). Participants spend countless hours custom building their quadcopters, fitting them with onboard cameras and ‘blinging’ them up with LED lights. During the actual events, racers don special goggles – sometimes held together with gaffer tape – to give them a drone’s-eye view as they steer their machines around the course. So it’s a lot like video gaming, except players get to control a real device instead of a virtual one.
“It’s addictive. It’s like playing a video game,” says drone racer Darren French, who has clocked over 60 kmph. “It’s fast. The more you do it, the more you want to fly.”