While the more familiar consumer drones can reach perfectly respectable speeds of 40 mph (64 km/h) plus, racing drones are another matter entirely. These rapid quadcopters are built purely for speed, and none more so than the RacerX which just claimed a Guinness World Record for the fastest ground speed by a remote controlled drone.
The RacerX was actually hand-built by Ryan Gury, who is the Director of Product for the Drone Racing League (DRL). This Formula One-inspired competition kicked off last year and can now be seen on ESPN, including the 2017 World Championship finale on July 28.
UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS
More than 1,200 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.UPGRADE
But before it made it to ESPN, drone racing was a hobby practiced by quadcopter tinkerers and DIYers, who more often than not would custom build their machines for optimal speed and meet up at carparks and abandoned warehouses to pit them against one another.
In line with this, there was a bit of trial and error involved in building the fastest racing drone – earlier prototypes actually burst into flames. But the finished product runs on two 1,300-mAh lithium-polymer batteries, a 42 V powertrain and weighs just 800 g (1.76 lb).
An official from Guinness World Record was on hand today as Gury and his fellow DRL engineers put their machine to the test. The drone actually reached a top speed of 179.6 mph (289 km/h), but the official figure is measured as an average top speed of two flights, as the drone zips back and forth across a 100-m (328-ft) course. The RacerX now holds the title of "Fastest ground speed by a battery-powered remote-controlled quadcopter" at 163.5 mph (263 km/h).
"We're thrilled to put our proprietary technology to the test, as we're all about speed and pushing the limits of drone design here at DRL," said Nicholas Horbaczewski, DRL CEO. "The record-setting RacerX represents the culmination of years of technological innovation by our team of world class engineers, and we're very excited to unveil the fastest racing drone on earth."
You can see the record-setting flight in the video below.
Source: Drone Racing League