One of the barriers to the burgeoning world of drone racing, along with the cost, is the technical know-how needed to piece together those fiddly components to form a functional and high-performance aircraft. At CES this week, startup UVify has taken aim at both these obstacles with a high-speed drone optimized for racing straight out of the box, that also undercuts some competitors on price.
The Draco drone is a quadcopter that has been built from the ground up for racing. It is crafted from a lightweight carbon fiber and is claimed to hit speeds of 75 mph and upwards (120 km/h) right out of the box, pairing with virtual reality goggles to offer pilots a first-person view flying experience. These types of figures are relatively common in drone racing circles, but they take a lot of soldering and technical expertise to get the DIY drones up to speed.
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Ready-to-race, high-speed drones aren't an entirely new idea. Last year we saw the introduction of the Rogue drone from American company xCraft that is claimed to hit 100mph, and we tried our hand with the Walkera F210 3D. But it is still relatively new territory where a clear winner has yet to emerge, unlike camera drones where DJI stamped its authority long ago.
And the Draco drone does have a couple of points of difference worth mentioning. At drone racing events, it is not uncommon to see pilots with soldering irons in hand performing on-the-spot repairs between crashes. With modular arms, any damage inflicted on this part of the Draco drone can quickly be replaced with a snap to get back into the action.
The drone is also very neatly packaged. A common theme with other pre-built racing quads, and indeed the more traditional DIY-variants, is the appearance of loose wires and electrical components. None of these can be seen on the Draco, which sports a water-resistant body claimed to endure "inclement weather."
Then there is the price. Up for preorder for US$550 (including shipping), the Draco drone comes in cheaper than the other pre-built racing drones we've seen – the Rogue is priced at $1,000 and the Walkera F210 3D at $600. Five hundred and fifty bucks is hardly pocket change, but considering the drone's other features it might just be tempting enough to win the sport of drone racing a few new fans.
You can check out the promo video for the Draco below.