Saturday, September 2, 2017

Drone Racing

Drone Racing; a night race in Osaka

Many public parks and gathering places in Japan now have signs which specifically prohibit the use of drones (similar to America). However, drones are becoming more popular which Japanese companies developing commercial uses for the new technology. Some large public events are covered by professional photographers using drones, drones have been used to collect live video footage of professional soccer games. A customized drone has even been used as the local mascot character for the town of Oji in Nara prefecture.

Now drones are being developed into their own competitive sport. The small flying devices are fitted with remote cameras which allow their pilots to don video goggles and fly the agile quad-copters around an obstacle course.
Trying to watch such small and fast moving objects race around a small course feels similar to watching slot-car racing.

Near the center of Osaka today, a small course,about 60ft wide, was set up for a contest that invited flyers from all over Japan. Some of the races took place at night when the course was illuminated with LED lighting strips. The Japan Drone League organized the event.

The event was part of the Osaka Machimira event.
Multi color streaks of light as drones race over the course of a night race in Osaka.
Photo taken on a 3 second exposure.
Contestants prepare their drone equipment. Here you can see the remote control, video goggles, battery, drone and tools.
A racer wears his googles. Note the antennae protruding from the device.
A drone bursts into flames after crashing into the arena's aluminum frame at full speed.
The high power lithium batteries seem to present a fire risk. The staff reacted with little surprise which makes me think that this is something that they see often.

Drones set to start a race. Notice the different colored LEDs used to identify the drones; blue, red and green.
A pilot checking the video feed in his goggles.
Drone crews preparing equipment during the night races by smartphone lights.
The top three racers of the event accept their prizes; a drone, a drone and a drone.
A 2 second exposure. You can the green and red drones streaking by.
Extended exposure with a camera using the "fireworks" setting.
The LED course light have an interesting aura here.
Osaka station and the moon in the background.
There were several video screens set up to show the video feed from the drones.
To the side of the table you can see one of the pilots sitting in a chair and using his goggles to control the aircraft.

Below you can see the video captured by the cameras on-board the drones which the pilots use to navigate the courses.