Hackday had a post today referencing an article about the state of drone racing in Australia originally published on DroneWatchDogs.com earlier this month. With so much of the news about drones dedicated to their darker uses: law enforcement, military action, surveillance, etc., it’s pretty easy to forget that majority of the UAVs in the air today are piloted for personal, recreational uses. One such activity that is rapidly gaining in popularity both in Australia and the US is racing. Unfortunately, antiquated laws in both countries are driving the racing scene underground for fear of prosecution by the man.
Like in the US, Australia’s laws governing drones dates back to a time when the only unmanned aerial vehicles were radio controlled airplanes. Specifically, in Australia, all pilot-less aircraft can only be flown in “line of sight,” must be flown below 400 ft, can’t be flown at night or within 30 m of people, and there are restrictions on the frequencies the pilots can use to communicate with their drones. All of these regulations are problematic, especially the “line of sight” requirement since first person viewer, aka FPV, goggles are the favored navigational aid of the racers.
None of this has stopped a drone racing league from springing up in Australia. Races take place in warehouses and farms with drones reaching speeds of up to 60km/h.