French quadcopter enthusiasts combine video game controls with real-world race action.
Drone racing and Star Wars: it's as if these two things were destined—probably long ago, written in scrolling yellow text—to come together. And now they have. United by a group of French quadcopter racing fanatics, with a nod to the insanely good speeder bike chase on the forest moon of Endor in Return of the Jedi, and also the fast-flying pod race from Phantom Menace, this group of drones take to the woods in Airgonay, France for a trial run. The goal is to organize a larger drone racing event in the future.
The video is in French, so you'll have to hit the "subtitles" button to get an idea of what they're saying, but once you do, you'll hear the drone enthusiasts discuss what they call a "new discipline," which involves FPV (first person view) remote-controlled quadcopter racing through a mile-long forest circuit. The pilots compete in groups of four and can only see the course through video glasses. The camera-mounted drones, which are custom-built to smaller sizes to maximize effectiveness, relay the live racing footage back to the user.
"Shaped for the race, these racing drones offer the best trade-off between speed and maneuverability," the video states. "And the main difference is in the pilot's vision which, unlike in the traditional use where they never lose sight of the drone, the pilot doesn't see his drone, but only what the camera of his drone is revealing."
It's like a headset-enabled VR video game, except set in the real-world, and with woodland obstacles like low-hanging tree branches and fellow racers, combined with the interplay of light between the trees, one that requires the instincts and reflexes of a Jedi to complete. You pretty much need to use the Force. There, I said it.
If you fancy getting involved, the racers have set up a Facebook page, and mention in the vid that they'll be running an international competitive event next year.