Drone racing kit offers simultaneous real world and virtual thrills

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Racing drones with app(Credit: Autonomous)

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New York-based robotics startup Autonomous is looking to merge real-life drone racing with a virtual reality experience, with its new Drone Racing Kit. The setup comes with everything you need to start racing against your friends, and a companion app and headset to experience the race from a drone's eye view.

It's the kind of setup that we see at drone racing competitions around the world like the World Drone Prix, but aimed at casual backyard racing that's easy to set up right out of the box. Other drones like the FlyBi also come with a VR headset, but the Autonomous kit comes with a pair of drones, controllers and Google Cardboard-style VR headsets along with cones and flags, and a racing app.

The app has a social element to it that allows you to challenge friends to races, organize a league and later share race video.

Autonomous launched the kit via an Indiegogo campaign and quickly reached its modest US$10,000 goal in the first 90 minutes. For $99, a backer of the campaign gets the whole kit with everything needed to start racing. It seemed like one of those crowdfunding campaigns that's a little too good too be true, so we reached out to Autonomous for more details.

The company told us that the quadcopters included in the package measure 315 x 315 x 105 mm and come with a 500-mAh 3.7V lithium-polymer battery delivering 5-7 minutes of flight time. The integrated cameras on the drones are 2-megapixel shooters with video resolution of 720p.

So these drones are on the budget end to be sure, which makes the price point seem a little more sensible, but as with all crowdfunding campaigns, very few people have been able to actually test this kit out, so buyer beware.

The system is demo'd in the following video.

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