(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
Drone racing is returning during Light City in 2018, and this year the flight path will be among the installations at Inner Harbor.
The Baltimore Drone Prix is expanding in a number of ways for its second event, according to Eno Umoh of the well-traveled local UAV outfit Global Air Media, who along with cofounder Austin Brown launched the event last year from the company’s base at Open Works.
For one, the event will span two weekends. A competition for the pro-level racers from around the region will be held on April 14 and 15. Along with getting to race in front of the crowds, $1,200 is up for grabs.
The next weekend, on April 21, youth and amateur entrants will take the course. A team of young fliers from the Greenmount West Community Center have been preparing themselves with an eight-week course to learn how to build drones, and race them in competition. Umoh said he wants drone racing to feel like a recreational sport for the eight members of Team Flash, and that means they won’t only be competing for one weekend.
“The plan is to have this team stick together,” he said. Regional competitions and tournaments could be in their future.
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Along with spreading out the competition, the organizers are also leveling up the course. Being among the light art that’s a key part of the festival, the 150 ft. long drone racing course will be lit with LEDs. Global Air Media partnered with local artists McCormack and Figg on the design to create a piece that can serve as an attraction throughout Light City. It’s being created at Stanley Black and Decker’s recently opened makerspace in Towson. Along with challenging the racers, the idea is also to make it interactive for spectators.
“There’s going to be two sections where they can walk inside the course and see what’s going on,” Umoh said.
It’s a chance to get an up-close view of a sport that’s starting to take off with big names behind it. Drone racers navigate the obstacles on the 26 ft. wide course through video goggles and controllers that can be manned from the ground. Last year’s debut of the Drone Prix brought out drone racing groups from around the region, but was the first such big course event in Baltimore city.-30-
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