April 10, 2017

Collegiate Drone Racing National Championship coming to Purdue

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — It's not a bird. It's not a plane. It's a drone! On Saturday (April 15), Purdue will host 48 pilots from schools across the nation during the first-ever Collegiate Drone Racing National Championship.

The Purdue Drone Club will compete against teams from universities including the University of California, Berkeley, Embry-Riddle Aeroautical University, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State, Tennessee Tech, the University of Alabama and the University of North Dakota, said Tyler Landers, Purdue Drone Club president. The event is free and open to the public. The race will be held at the Gold Intramural fields, and there will be free parking at the McCutcheon Parking Garage.

"Collegiate drone racing is an up-and-coming sport," he said. "In January, Purdue hosted the first-ever intercollegiate drone race with Ohio State University and the University of Illinois. We are hoping the national championship gives the sport an even bigger boost."

Every pilot competing builds their own drone, Landers said. The pilots use the homemade creations to navigate a complicated obstacle course at speeds that can reach 80-90 mph. They zig and zag through checkpoints and around flags, hoping to win part of the $10,000 worth of gear that is up for grabs. Prizes include motors, video goggles, video transmitters and other equipment that is necessary for racing.

"The Purdue Drone Club and the sport of collegiate drone racing helps promote the education and use of drone technology to both Purdue students and the community," Landers said.

Spectators can try their hand at flying a drone in a simulator or with one of the mini drones that will be at the event. There also will be video goggles that some spectators can use to view a live feed of the action. There will be bleachers for seating and a spectator tent with projectors showing the action live.

Prizes will be awarded to the top three teams and top three pilots. What is left will then be raffled off to the pilots.

Gates will open at 10 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. Qualifying races run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with eight pilots racing at a time in heats running every five to six minutes. The championship races will be 3-5 p.m. The top 16 pilots from the qualifiers go head-to-head in a double-elimination bracket until a winner is crowned.

MultiGP, a racing special interest group for the Academy of Model Aeronautics, is assisting with sanctioning the event. They have provided support with planning, sponsorship and equipment donation. In addition, the event will be live-streamed through FPVLive.tv.

State Street Redevelopment Project construction is under way. This work will close a portion of State Street and significantly affect surrounding thoroughfares in West Lafayette. For construction and project information, visit www.statestreetwl.com

Writer: Megan Huckaby, 765-496-1325, mhuckaby@purdue.edu 

Source: Tyler Landers, tlander@purdue.edu

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