The Goodwood Hillclimb course up the Duke of Richmond’s driveway is 1.86 kilometers (1.16 miles) long. A blazing fast run up the hill takes about 50 seconds, and includes nine corners and a number of hazards for the racers. One of the straights is stone lined, a far cry from nice, soft Armco. While a fast car can make short work of the hill, could it be handled faster from the air? With Drone racing on the rise, Goodwood seems like an ideal place to find out. Can a professional drone racer from the XBLADES show down a 4.0L Porsche?
Many years ago Top Gear set the all-time record at their track with a BAE Sea Harrier. The pilot’s 31-second figure-eight over the airfield overshot the track boundaries by miles. The drone in the video tracked remarkably closely to the course. Though it lost to the car, it maintained an extremely close gap behind the Porsche over much of the course.
Incredible Mind Body Control of Drone Pilot
What is staggering is the necessary disconnect between what is happening to the drone pilot’s body, and what his brain is trying to achieve. Flying a drone or an R/C plane can be tricky because it requires you to put yourself elsewhere in three dimensional space. Doing so while in not just a moving car, but one driven on a race course in anger is something else. Every force acting on the pilot’s body has nothing to do with his actual goal.
While the done pilot did lose to the Porsche, his effort was valiant. The course appears no less hazardous from the air, with trees, banners, and all number of obstacles for the compact drone. The drone racers posit that one day their sport will be bigger than Formula 1. It’s impossible to know when or if that will happen, but it’s certainly exciting to watch.