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HomeDroneDrone Racing League Champion Headsup: The Interview

Drone Racing League Champion Headsup: The Interview

drone racing league champion

picture courtesy Drone Racing League

Two-time Drone Racing League Champion ‘Headsup’ displays on profession within the sport

By Jim Magill

All pictures courtesy Drone Racing League, used with permission.

Piloting a high-speed, extremely maneuverable first-person view (FPV) drone by a course of brightly coloured obstacles and gates, “you really suppose that you just’re within the entrance seat of this factor,” two-time Drone Racing League (DRL) champion Evan Turner stated in an interview.

Turner, who additionally goes by his racing identify of “Headsup,” received the title February 20, on the 2021-22 Algorand Drone Racing League Vegas championship race in Las Vegas. The ultimate warmth, often known as the Golden Warmth, of the racing match pitted Turner in opposition to DRL’s longest reigning pilot, Gabriel “Gab707” Kocher.

Drone racing league champion

Picture courtesy Drone Racing League

The DRL, the premier world skilled drone racing league, challenges elite pilots to fly custom-built racing drones touring at speeds of as much as 90 mph. Pilots compete throughout a multi-city tour in a sequence of digital and bodily competitions.

For Turner, who celebrated his 19th birthday final month, re-winning his DRL championship is the excessive level of his younger life, and caps a profession of piloting unmanned aerial automobiles that started at a really younger age.

“I’ve flown one thing that flies in distant management since I used to be 6 years outdated, alongside my dad,” he recalled. “When my Dad got here residence from work and I’d come residence from faculty, I’d get on the simulator. This was flying remote-control planes, earlier than drones even existed.”

After a number of years, as technologically subtle drones started taking on the hobbyist marketplace for unmanned plane, the father-son duo switched to the newer type of unmanned aerial automobiles. Turner stated the swap was additionally partly the results of his mastery of R-C plane exceeding that of his father.

“My dad would get annoyed that I used to be higher than him,” he stated. “Concerning the time once I was 12 years outdated, my Dad received into drones, as a result of he wished to be higher than me at one thing.”

Turning skilled at 16

Turner started competing in novice drone races on the age of 14 and joined the DRL at 16. “DRL was pushing to search out one of the best pilots on this planet. I used to be type of subsequent in line to take my shot at it.”

Competing on the stage of the DRL requires a mix of ability and technique. Not like in auto racing, the place competing groups design and construct their very own automobiles, DRL racers all function the identical make and mannequin of drone, the custom-built DRL Racer4.

picture courtesy Drone Racing League

“The DRL has accomplished all of the analysis and improvement,” Turner stated. “They’ve the DRL tech ops crew. They’re the individuals behind the scenes, sustaining all of the drones, setting all of them up for the pilots beforehand.”

This uniformity within the tools ranges the taking part in subject to the place victory is achieved solely primarily based on the ability of the pilot. “For all of the pilots, what determines whether or not you get to the end gate first or final relies off of the way you fly the drone,” Turner stated. “It’s primarily based on: did you fly higher than the following man?”

The strategic facet of drone racing contains each bodily and psychological parts, he stated.

“There’s the precise strategic facet, the place you’re attempting to compete at your greatest stage inside the guidelines, and it’s a must to end first in essentially the most races,” he stated.

“Then there’s this complete different facet and that’s the psychological recreation,” Turner stated. “On the finish of the day we’re all opponents and we actually wish to win. What it takes is somewhat little bit of trash discuss; you type of need to get into different individuals’s heads. That’s really a technique that’s utilized by all the pilots.”

One facet of the steel technique is the flexibility to keep up a poker face, showing to be calm, cool and picked up, whereas guiding flying automobiles round an advanced course at breathtaking speeds. Nonetheless, whereas the pilots would possibly look like sustaining an unruffled exterior, viewers watching the competitors at residence are in a position to see the true physiological impact of the races because of a platform supplied by drone {hardware} and software program firm DraganFly, which shows opponents’ coronary heart charges in actual time.

“It might appear to be we’re simply sitting there on the stage, holding our remotes with our goggles on, however our coronary heart fee is 115-120 beats per minute. Our hearts are beating so quick as a result of we’re so nervous, so uptight about the whole lot that’s happening,” Turner stated.

drone racing league champion

picture courtesy Drone Racing League

Recommendation for subsequent technology of champion racers

His championship win has introduced Turner a level of fame that the 19-year-old might solely dream about when he started his skilled racing profession.

“I used to be at a Mexican restaurant and hastily, I got here up on TV. It was so cool for DRL to place drone racing and aviation know-how out to the general public at such a big scale,” he stated.

Turner inspired youthful followers of the game to become involved in drone racing themselves.

“I feel drone racing is essential,” he stated. “I’m not going to exit and inform all people that they should be an expert drone racer. That’s tough and requires plenty of work and time that some individuals don’t have. However I do suppose is drone racing must be part of their lives.”

He stated working with drones can educate younger individuals problem-solving expertise as they attempt to construct and keep aerial automobiles that may fly quicker and take sharper corners.

“If they will take into consideration drone racing or drone know-how as one thing that’s enjoyable for them, the probabilities are infinite,” he stated. “Even when they’re not one of the best drone racers, if they will take these expertise that they discovered from drone racing and apply them to no matter they do in life, they’re going to go up to now and so they’ll have such a bonus.”

Learn extra about drone racing:


Jim Magill is a Houston-based author with nearly a quarter-century of expertise overlaying technical and financial developments within the oil and fuel business. After retiring in December 2019 as a senior editor with S&P International Platts, Jim started writing about rising applied sciences, corresponding to synthetic intelligence, robots and drones, and the methods through which they’re contributing to our society. Along with DroneLife, Jim is a contributor to and his work has appeared within the Houston Chronicle, U.S. Information & World Report, and Unmanned Programs, a publication of the Affiliation for Unmanned Car Programs Worldwide.



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