'Fast And Furious' Style Underground Drone Racing Takes Off In Australia

Underground drone racing appears to have taken off in Australia, giving competitors the chance to enter a league that comes complete with its own set of rules and regulations.

Five pilots met in a warehouse in Melbourne, Australia for a race organised by QAROP to see who had created the fastest unmanned aviation device.

The race looked like something out of the film Fast and Furious with souped up drones and spinning rotors taking centre stage, instead of cars and roaring engines.

This relatively new sport also had an organised course that included a long stretch for speed, a semi-circular pass under gates and air flags to mark the corners.

Part of the growing attraction around drone racing is the immersive experience it offers racers, who wear goggles that allow them to see the video being streamed from the front cameras on their drone.

The front person view (FPV) gives competitors the chance to zoom along with the drone they are operating, which can reportedly reach speeds of around 100 mph.

Chad Nowak, one of the racers, told Gizmag:

"FPV is such a different, immersive experience, everyone's wanting to be that Star Wars pod racer, going in between the hills.

"When I fly full-sized aircraft I see things and think, 'oh it would be so fun to dive in between that,' but I can't because it's my life at stake and you've got to take it a bit more seriously. With these thing I can now do that. And if I get it wrong, worst case, I break a frame and I have to build a new one."

On race day participants are encouraged to take a few test drives of the course giving everyone a chance to familiarise themselves with the flight path.

Proceedings are overseen by a director whose main concern is safety, a test pit boss and an umpire per pilot who watches the video feed and calls out once the racer has crossed the finished line.

Each of the participants are ranked according to qualifying time and have three opportunities to improve their speed.

Within the UK, drone racing is also gathering momentum as companies such as FirstPersonView are looking to establish race circuits and free flying zones in Essex.