When it comes to drone racing, the folks at Freedom Drone Sports apparently believe that the bigger the aircraft, the better. After all, imagine how much less exciting auto racing would be if all the cars were just tiny models. With that in mind, the Australian company is developing a big drone for use in a new type of racing, known as Freedom Class. The prototype made its first successful test flight late last month.

Developed over the past year by a team led by CEO Chris Ballard, the Freedom Class Race V1.0 prototype quadcopter measures 120 cm (47 inches) across, and tips the scales at a whopping 30 kg (66 lb). During the test flight, it managed a top speed of 159 km/h (99 mph). According to CTO Leonard Hall, improved aerodynamics and higher-revving motors should help boost that figure to over 200 km/h (124 mph) in the next version.

The flight ended when the drone crashed while switching to autonomous mode, as the failsafe and "hard kill" features were being tested.

Apart from simply presenting more of a visual spectacle, races featuring giant drones could also be … well, they could be pretty loud. The prototype is described as "emitting a roar that sits somewhere between a fighter jet and a race car."

"From a spectator's perspective the sound was fantastic, and the aircraft will be clearly seen and heard from hundreds of meters away," says Hall.

The company is now working on securing funding for the development of V2.0. In the meantime, you can see some of V1.0's test flight in the video below.

View gallery - 2 images