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The New Yorker’s The Trippy, High-Speed World of Drone Racing #drone #droneday

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Fantastic intro reading for world of civilian drones and drone racing from The New Yorker:

In a canyon in the Rocky Mountain Front above Fort Collins, Colorado, a young man named Jordan Temkin is flying his drone. He wears goggles that show him a video feed from a camera built into the drone, and he holds a console with twin joysticks that control the direction, angle, pitch, yaw, and speed of the flight. He sets the drone on the gravel at his feet. Just downhill is the Cache la Poudre River. The canyon rises to maybe three hundred feet above. He gives a command and the drone leaps to the top of the canyon in an instant. Then it is soaring over the highest places, looking down on Temkin, a small figure sitting on the tailgate of his car. At eighty miles an hour, the shadow of the drone flashes across the face of the rocks. Then Temkin swoops it down to the surface of the river, where it zips a few feet above the water. Because of where the sun is, the river is a blast of silver light. Temkin takes the drone upward again and veers into an intersecting canyon.

The limit on the battery that powers the drone is about three minutes. Before time’s up, Temkin lands the drone near him, where its arrival on the gravel makes the kind of plastic clatter associated with dropped toys. In fact, the drone looks like a toy. Temkin calls it a quadcopter. It has four plastic propellers, one at each corner of a cruciform plastic frame. “Quad” is the commonly used name for drones like this. The entire device could fit in a single-serving pizza box. An immeasurable amount of scientific and technological progress, like a huge invisible inverted pyramid, converges on this small, toylike point.

At twenty-six years old, Temkin still has the sweet, serene manner of a not-spoiled kid whose parents adore him. He is six feet tall, dark-haired, part Asian; he wears black jeans, a black T-shirt with a small silver logo on it that says “DRL,” a dark-blue zip-up hoodie (usually unzipped), and white-and-yellow running shoes. When people ask him what he does for a living, he says he races toy helicopters. He has found this to be an effective shorthand description for a brand-new calling. Temkin is a professional drone-racing pilot, one of the top earners in the sport. Flying in the mountains as much as he can is how he practices.

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Welcome to drone day on the Adafruit blog. Every Monday we deliver the latest news, products and more from the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), quadcopter and drone communities. Drones can be used for video & photography (dronies), civil applications, policing, farming, firefighting, military and non-military security work, such as surveillance of pipelines. Previous posts can be found via the #drone tag and our drone / UAV categories.


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