Is might sound like a tale from a computer game or an alien-themed movie, but drone racing is real and happening. Drones have been adapted in the contemporary world to help solve a lot of human problems. Recently, Amazon Inc successfully tested a drone delivery service that is meant to offer fast deliveries to customers. The project is being worked on, and we could see one of the best tech innovations in this century.
Commercial uses of drones have been around for decades, but recreational use of drones is quite new. People are increasingly using drones to race. Drone racing is a very popular sport among techies nowadays. This is obviously due to the fact that civilian use of a drone is relatively new and people love to have new experiences when it comes to tech.
Drone racing is exciting and has attracted a lot of UAV enthusiasts to discover this new hobby. Drone racing (first person view racing) involves controlling of drones (UAVs) equipped with cameras and head-mounted displays which provide a live feed on the drone’s progress and location. This activity originated in Australia in 2014 whereby armature participants organized leagues and races. The sport has picked up in the last few years and is promising to become one of the largest sports in tech in the coming years.
If you are entirely new to fpv racing, you might want to know how this happens. Basically, a drone is equipped with a camera which transmits live feed on how it’s progressing throughout the race. The racer uses a radio remote control and sees the feed live on special goggles from which the player can successfully control their drone.
Racing drones are different from camera drones so if you want to use your camera drone to participate in a racing league, you will be in for a huge shock. Racing drones are customized for racing. They are fast and lightweight and are more immune to damage when they crash. Camera drones are slow and heavy and cannot withstand the demand of going 150 miles per hour. So, you should not use your camera drone for racing whatsoever.
Racing drones are bound to crash more often that camera drones due to the intensity of drone racing. That is why they are specifically designed to take minimum impact from falls and damages from crashes are significantly fewer than damages from camera drone crashes.
The Drone Racing League
If you are into drone racing, then you probably know of the Drone Racing League. It is becoming a larger phenomenon, and this is evident by the funding and publicity it is gradually gaining. Already, large broadcasters such as ESPN, Sky Sports, OSN and Groupe AB are airing the league in live broadcasts.
The league is for elite racers, and it takes a lot of time and practice before one decides to apply to apply for participation.
How Does the Drone League Work?
The Drone Racing League has 18 pilots who compete across seven levels of races, six regular season levels, and 1 World Championship. The winner of each level gets a direct place in Championship. The other places are filled by the other pilots who had the best merit performance. The league takes every other year and has been ongoing for some years now.
If you want to participate in this league, you have to practice hard in order to rise through the ranks and compete with elite drone racers.
Other Drone Racing Leagues
The drone racing league is however not the only drone racing league in the world as I have a list of other drone racing leagues in the world over. If you have a significant number of drone racing friends, you can decide to form a league and compete between yourself to get the necessary experience before deciding to join a league which is tougher and has experienced racers.
Assemble or Buy a Racing Drone?
The best drone racers do not use ready to fly drones. This is because ready to fly drones have limitations, and they need to tweak the features to acquire the best performances in terms of speed. That is why if you have some experience in racing drones, I suggest that you assemble your drone personally and look for the best performing parts in the market right now. You will never win a race with a ready to fly drone so take the challenge and assemble your racing drone personally.
Average Racing Drone Speed
The speed of the drone depends on the power of the drone and how its parts communicate. That is why I highly suggest that you assemble your own racing drone in order to achieve the best speeds.
Drone speeds vary and a ready to fly drone can have a top speed of about 60mph. This also depends on the strength of the wind and how jammed radio signals are in your area. If you assemble your drone properly, you can reach higher speeds – 75mph. Elite drone racers have recorded top speeds of 90mph.
Buying a Racing Drone
If you are new to fpv racing, you should buy a drone instead of assembling one yourself. Racing is being developed and customized every year. If you are not sure on what drone to start from, do not worry as I have a list of the best racing drones that you can buy to start of your fpv adventure.
After much research and practical tests, I compiled a list of the best racing drones you can get in the market right now. Racing drones cost anywhere between $200 and $2000 depending on the features so prepare your budget. This list contains a list of the best flying to fly racing drones your money can get you in the drone market right now;
1. Walkera Rodeo 110
Walkera is one of the best manufacturers of drones in the world right now and hey came up with a gem in the drone racing world. The Rodeo 110 uniqueness and efficiency has led it to be one of the most bought racing drones ever.
This racer is equipped with a 600TVL wide angle camera which is impressive given the mere 110mm size of the drone. A 200/600 MW transmission ensures that there is consistency in radio signal transmission.
Further, it has a powerful 850mAH LiPo battery which can withstand 6 minutes of flight. Further features such as a duo radio support o PPM and SBUS makes this racer a monster in the air. You will not regret purchasing this drone, and I highly recommend it to beginners of drone racing. You can get this quad for around $250 depending on the retailer.
2. Blade Mach Beginner
The name suggests it all. The Blade Mach beginner is one of the best racing drones for a beginner. This racer has a nice design, and its polycarbonate frames are one of the nicest looking in the market. But the design is not the only good thing about this drone.
The drone is equipped with an A3174 receiver which sends consistent and strong radio signals when the drone is in flight. Moreover, a powerful E-flite 3s 1350mAh battery powers this drone. This battery enables the drone to last up to 6 minutes in active flight.
Additionally, a CCD FP camera shows you the surroundings of the drones and allows you to race properly. This is one of the beast racing drones a beginner can purchase.
3. EACHINE WIZARD X220
The first thing you will realize about this drone is the rugged design that has been used to construct this drone. EACHINE make one of the best all-around drones, and that is evident with the WIZARD X220.
This drone is equipped with an F3 6DOF flight controller, a 5.8Ghz 48CH 200MW transmitter which is not that impressive compared to other drones on the list but will do the job just right. A 20A ESC properly controls the four 2300KV motors.
A powerful 1500mAh battery runs the racer, and the high-quality 700TVL camera will enable you to see where the drone is going. The downside of this drone is that it does not have a stabilization mechanism and therefore not a very good choice for a beginner. I suggest you buy this drone once you have tried out any other drones on the list.
4. Odyssey Starfall X
The Starfall X made by Odyssey is another good beginner drone for any new drone racer. Its capabilities are as good as its name. It’s very impressive compared to other drones on this list given that it beats all of them in the amount of time it can stay in the air. It can also go up to impressive heights with 500m being the maximum.
It is equipped with a 1300mAh battery which keeps it in active flight for 8-10 minutes. It has a 1080p camera which enables you to have a wonderful view of the racing arena. It can also achieve amazing speeds, 55mph.
5. Walkera F210
Another masterpiece from Walkera is the F210. The f210 is a solid racing drone which can race at amazing speeds. This drone might be a little heavier than other racing drones on this list, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t get fantastic racing experience.
The best thing about this drone is that it is created in a way that allows you to reassemble it according to your racing needs extensively. This drone is equipped with a Devo 7 flight controller which is efficient and stable.
The F210’s most standout feature is its fame. It’s made from thick polycarbonate which is heavy enough to protect it from damage from crashes but also light enough to race. This means that you will have fewer replacements after a crash compared to other drones.
This a cost-effective, fast racing drone which is suitable for both beginners and experienced racers.
Aerodynamics is the study of forces which allow any aircraft to fly. Physical aerodynamics laws include Bernoulli principle, Newton laws, and the airfoil terminology. There is a need to know why and how an aircraft will fly.
Newton’s motion laws are divided into three; the first, second and third laws. The first law states that an object that is resting continues to rest until outside forces act on the object. Alternatively, any object that is in motion will continue being in motion following the same direction and at the same speed until some force from outside interferes with its course.
The second law states that when an object that is moving at uniform speed is influenced by any external force, the acceleration will have a direct proportionality to force amount. Simple, the heavier the object, the slower the acceleration rate. The Newton’s third law states; for every force or action there exists an opposite force or reaction that is equal.
The Bernoulli principle; the pressure of a fluid that is flowing in a tube is decreased and speed increases once the fluid reaches a point of constriction. The airfoil terminology; airflow developed in an airfoil provides pressure for the lifting of substances over the foil.
Drone aerodynamics is different for various unmanned crafts. Drone aerodynamics rely more on the linearized aerodynamics mostly on control and aeroelasticity.
A small drone will have a higher hand in terms of understanding and enhancement of the modeling capabilities for very low flows of the Reynolds number and thus a need for aerodynamic technologies that are unique. Layer-Boundary control is important in the small drones. Propulsion systems are also essential for small drones; they include the propulsion systems that are integrated. If the drones are too small with dimensions of centimeter level, there will be unique aerodynamic design challenges.
Aerodynamic modeling for the control systems
There is a need for the use of technology in the exploitation of aerodynamics that is non-linear and unsteady, attack flows with high angles, improvement of the assimilation techniques for the properties of unconventional aerodynamics to design of the control system and vehicle simulation.
Using the concept of stability derivatives is useful in linear designs. They ought to be augmented with the concept which implies aerodynamic properties will be dependent on history and also highly non-linear.
Modeling concepts include the neural networks and the indicial responsive models.
Forces that affect flight
There are four main forces that act on aircraft. They are;
The weight; gravity force which act on the crafts in a downward direction is known as weight. It affects cargo, fuel, and crew.
Lift; it is that force which supports aircraft in the air by giving an upward push.
The drag; it is a force which usually holds back the aircraft. Drag is due to airflow disruption about the body, objects that protrude on aircraft and the wings. Drag is motion-resistant as it will act in the opposite direction to the wind and parallel to relative winds.
Thrust is a force that is developed by the engine of the aircraft. Thrust always acts in a forward direction. For flight sustenance, thrust ought to be equal to or greater than effects of drag.
The rotational axes
There are three rotational axes for a drone. They are;
Longitudinal axis; it is a pivot point where any aircraft will roll. Roll is usually described as wing tips movement. The axis runs through the aircraft length. That is from the nose to the aircraft tail. It is parallel to the aircraft’s primary direction.
Lateral axis; it is a pivot point where an aircraft pitches. Pitch is the upward and downward movement of the aircraft’s nose. This axis runs left to right of an aircraft. It is a wing to wing axis. It’s perpendicular to the longitudinal axis, and thus it bisects it at ninety degrees.
Vertical axis; it runs from top to bottom of the aircraft. It is perpendicular to the pitch and roll axis. Yaw movement is made by the vertical axis. Yaw is change in heading of the aircraft from the aircraft’s primary direction.
Rigid body dynamics;
The rigid dynamics of the body of a quadrotor will govern the responses of attitude control. Expressions for the dynamics are obtained in 2 coordinate systems. They are the fixed boy coordinates and inertial coordinates.
Types of drone aerodynamics
The long endurance and high altitude UAVs: Mixed turbulent and flows that are turbulent and the purpose of transition are some of the things that make carrying out of vehicle aerodynamics challenging by the use of computational tools that are available.
Development of most UAVs involves the making of several experimental databases that are substantial for the performance and studies control. Aspects of the aerodynamics of UAVs like configuration design, aerodynamic control and stability of UAV after aerodynamic modeling will have more development requirements. Each and every drone will have aerodynamic considerations which can be termed as unique and are quite important in future drone development.
Induced Drag: there are drones that are expected to operate at high speeds than drones for the purpose of maximum efficiency or aerodynamics. This is for mission effectiveness or cost. Long endurance means that the speed operation will be low thus an increase in the vortex drag. Increasing the wingspan will reduce the induced drag. A large span with high ratio aspect wings will pose challenges that will range from transport and storage to the aeroelastic control.
Use of lifting systems that are non-planar will reduce the vortex drag which will include geometrics, joined wings, winglets, and C-wings. These will reduce induced drag and will be more specific to their mission.
The aerial vehicles that are unmanned for altitudes that are very high; aerodynamic designs for altitudes that are very high enable controlling of the UAV at the altitude. The interaction between control on the aircraft and the propellers is all about Reynolds numbers that are low and high Mach.
Control and aero-elasticity; aero-elastic instability for the purpose of long endurance is caused by wing flexibility due to the need for a high ratio aspect and structural fractions for low weight. Stability systems that are augmented are used for combating of aero-elastic instability. There also will be unconventional configurations that include designs that are low-observable or flying wings. They often will exhibit aerodynamic characteristics that are non-linear.
The issues of the boundary-layer; they are essential in the research and the development of future aerial vehicles that are unmanned. It is all about the numbers of low Reynolds, prediction, and modification of the transition of boundary-layer, the design of the airfoil section and sensing and control of the boundary layer.
The high speed of HALE aerial vehicles that are unmanned: the high speeds assist in surveying of areas that are large over a short period of time. Aerial vehicles that are unmanned and have high speeds include the supersonic designs which have the ability to collect data efficiently. The data can be used in future researches.
The maneuverable aerial vehicles that are unmanned and achieve high speeds: this gives rise to unconventional design problem of the aerodynamics; configurations will be based on the considerations of the cross-section, maneuvering capability, proper and efficient integration of propulsion and the wide speeds range are needed. Configurations will vary widely though there will be some due to related design of the aerodynamics. They include;
The unsteady aerodynamics that is non-linear in nature: there are times when dimensionless rate of the pitch will be large even with a significant number of maneuvering requirements. This means that aerodynamics that is unsteady play the greater role in the performance of the drones. In critical conditions like vortex burst, predicting steady characteristics for the vehicles that are reliant on the non-linear lift of vortex is challenging. There is a need for the study of computational methods in the study and prediction of flows dominated by vortex before the flows are controlled effectively.
Control concepts and unique configurations: design possibilities are numerous though many would be infeasible for a craft that is manned. There is need to meet low observability and high maneuverability which can result in unconventional arrangements involving flights in the non-linear regimes which in normal circumstance can be averted by the conventional aircraft. Some of the aerodynamic features that will be dependent on configuration include shedding and the separation of the vortex and good simulations for complete flow of the vehicles.
Integration of the propulsion airframe: most aerial vehicles that are unmanned will require designs that are highly integrated. This will require modeling of an inlet and the exhaust flows in an operating range which is wide. Serpentine inlets are used for the advanced fighters increases distortion, create adverse and large pressure gradients internally and separation risk. Active or passive measures of controlling flow can be used in problem reduction. Small aerial vehicles that are unmanned have low count of flow for the Reynolds number. Small drones will have significant numbers of aerodynamic challenges such as control problems, design inefficiency, and poor drag ratios.
Flow control can exploit the dynamic lift. Manipulating flow fields that are separated is efficiently accomplished by the use of some flow-control technologies.