Purdue Hosts First Ever Intercollegiate Drone Races
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Purdue Hosts First Ever Intercollegiate Drone Races

September 7, 2019

[MUSIC] 3, 2, 1… go! Purdue is hosting the first ever indoor intercollegiate drone race, and we’re hosting Ohio State University and the University of Illinois. They’re small quadcopters, not GPS-driven or anything like that. We are actually inputting the whole race. And as we’re racing, we are seeing the live feed video through video goggles. So we are essentially in the cockpit while we’re flying. It’s not something that comes naturally. You have to do a lot of practice. And every course is different, so if we’re here it’s flags. If we’re outdoors, we’re racing around trees and light poles. So all this stuff you just have to learn it as you go and get used to the track. Batteries, they’re not designed to be efficient. They’re designed to be very fast and very powerful. So most of our races are, I’d say, less than three minutes. Four minutes, you’re probably going to have to land because your battery’s about to die. Some of these full-out could probably do 70 or 80 miles an hour pretty easily. Definitely a huge part of the sport is crashing, so… “love to race, love to crash!” But when you crash, you can be tearing apart some wires, you could be maybe burning up some electronics. So you learn to be very quick on fixing stuff and assessing problems. –We want to make sure it’s safe so I kind of make sure they follow all the safety guidelines that are out there, give them some advice of where to fly them on campus, and how to organize the group. But they’ve really kind of taken the ball and run with it. This is our fourth semester being a club. We’ve grown. I mean, we’re absolutely massive. We’re the largest collegiate drone club in the US, over 140 members right now. We have a lot of beginners. So we host tutorials and workshops, teaching them how these things work, how to build them. We have our own workspace on campus, so tons of soldering irons and all the equipment they need. And we also rent out video goggles and transmitters. So we’re breaking down the barrier to entry, so students don’t have to pay thousands of dollars to get into the sport. We have all the equipment that they can use.
–The students really have a good handle on these drones. You can tell they practice flying them a lot. It’s a really fun community and a fun atmosphere here. I’m looking forward to seeing more drone races, especially at Purdue.

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