FPV quadcopters race in a local Orlando Multi GP race on Sunday June 5. Matthew Saunders, Central Florida Future
First-person-view, or FPV, quadcopter racing is a sport that seems to defy the laws of physics. Humming around the race track like a swarm of hornets, these drones viciously maneuver through tight turns and obstacles.
Multirotor Grand Prix (Multi GP) is a competitive racing league for FPV radio-controlled quadcopters that had its first season in 2015.
Getting started can be as easy or difficult as you want it to be. There are FPV quadcopters that enthusiasts can buy already assembled and ready to fly.
There are also those that like the challenge of buying and building their quadcopters from the ground up.
Julian Harris, a UCF senior Aerospace engineering major, chose the latter.
“I just started by buying a few parts,” Harris said. “Over time I got everything that I needed and I started to build my quad. I soldered and put everything together myself and every time something breaks I have to put it back together. That’s kind of the cycle with this sport.”
With the quadcopter industry beginning to grow there is becoming an increased availability of parts and places to buy those parts. Websites like getfpv.com, amazon.com and lumenier.com are websites that sell everything you need to build your racing drone.
The popularity of this sport has rapidly spread across the nation. In Florida there are three main chapters and about 12 smaller chapters of FPV racers organized by location.
The three main chapters are located in Miami, Brevard and Orlando. The organizers of these races started holding events about a year ago and try to alternate race locations in Florida.
On June 5, the Orlando chapter had a points race event at Southport Community Park Where Harris was able to compete and make his FPV racing debut.
“The difficult part was trying to balance my altitude and throttle,” Harris said. “The obstacles we flew through were very low to the ground. My main concern was making sure I let off the throttle enough to make it through without losing too much altitude and bouncing off the ground.”
Pilots use radio frequencies to transmit video from their quadcopter to goggles that they wear to help them navigate their quadcopters through those difficult obstacles.
Chapter organizer William Anzueto said course design and obstacles can vary based on a number of different factors.
“What we look for are classic racetrack maneuvers,” Anzueto said. “You have a lot of 180 degree turns, some slalom sections and then some fun obstacles. Any of the different chapters can create their own course based on what they see online or from other race experiences.”
The races are divided up into novice and pro classes. Each class gets three races to complete as many laps around the track as they can before time expires.
At the end of time, the racers must land in a designated area for their lap points to count. The pilot with the highest lap point total after three races is declared the winner.
Pilots and spectators of Multi GP races range from children to adults and include people from all walks of life. Marc Mailloux, a senior mechanical engineering major who also flies FPV, attended the race and has a desire to compete very soon.
“The community is just so embracing to new people,” Mailloux said. “They are like, ‘Hey, you want to get involved in this sport? Well then come on board.’ They really try to help you get started.”
Whether you win, lose or crash — and in some cases burn — the comradery between the pilots at these races is world class and their passion for the sport is evident in the way they interact with everyone at the event.
Matthew Saunders is the Sports Editor for the Central Florida Future. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.