FPV drone racing is great, but we’re taking things up a level. MAAXX an indoor drone air race, simple as that. But there is a catch: the drone piloting can be done from a ground-station, but it must be fully automatic. This is not about human piloting skills; it is about building machines and systems that can operate without human intervention.
Wheels up – hands off
What is holding things up?
The bottom line is that we are still seeking funding in order to book the venue.
Where is the venue?
The big change that we want to introduce this year is the simple fact of holding it outside.
Specifically in Millennium Square in central Bristol!
This is the first move in a long road to somehow racing in the open air one day, but also puts us right in the centre of the Bristol’s Science and Culture area, including all the excellent hotels and bars.
If all goes well, MAAXX will be part of a larger “Festival of Ingenuity” event. From a technical point of view this has the profound effect of giving GPS connectivity and a lot less radio interference, which should make the racing a *lot* more interesting!
MAAX Europe 2018 was a packed affair with a full two days!
What’s the Programme?
To be confirmed but basically:
Friday – Industry Day – 9am to 5pm – register for the latest research and innovation from academia and leading technology companies.
Booking fee £25 plus VAT
Saturday – Families & Race Day – doors open from 9am to 5pm with the main Cup Races, Aerospace celebration, innovation exhibition, demonstration flying, DroneJam results (TBC), Prize Giving and more! Free to attend.
What is the best way to get started?
If you have no experience in building your own drone, buy a programmable drone (e.g. Parrot AR).
Check out my video on how I got started with an AR.Drone, and a C# bundle to get you started.
Based on experience from MAAXX Europe events, do you have any tips?
Practice! Your drone needs to be operating well in your own home environment before you bring it to the race. There will probably be plenty of tweaking to do just to accommodate the local conditions.
The red line is useful and there to help, but you can use any method you like to navigate the course.
Think laterally about how to get around the course – e.g. last year’s winners laid down their own QR
Having a GPS position signal should be a huge deal for helping to fly fast and tight. If experienced, build a stable airframe and use an iNav/RPi combo. Have a systems architecture with minimal avionics/groundstation comms – when coming to new environment, you can get loads of EM Interference issues.
The key to success is flexibility (e.g. easily tweaked C# or Python scripting). If you can afford it, have at least one entire spare airframe on the day – you will almost certainly have a prang, and you need to get flying ASAP whilst the pit crew fixes the first drone.
Bring spare everything: tools, batteries, mains adapters, food, beer, props… And of course zip-ties
and duct tape!
We had two race Arena this year!
Each one is 36 x 15 x 3 metres (50% bigger than our total race arena last year). The race lane centre-line follows a loop 2 metres inside the perimeter. Competitors also have a dedicated Pit Lane area for tinkering with their drones and undergoing running repairs. All activity is controlled from a central Flight Control booth.
New to 2018 is DroneJam! We’re really excited to be working with Huawei to provide people with the opportunity to build and fly their own autonomous drone in a 36hr DroneJam!. We’ll be providing everything you need, from a drone, AI mobile phone for control, and experts to help with sample code and development advice.
Exhibition & Displays
We worked with Aerospace Bristol as part of their RAF 100 celebration to put on a fantastic display of aerial innovation over the years. We’ll also be featuring some of the best companies and academic research in the field. If you’re an aspiring drone / software engineer (or you’re looking for one) this is the place to be!
- The course is a long oval; the straights are 40 metres long and 6 metres apart.
- The track is 2 metres wide.
- There are put-in and exit lanes to allow the drones to enter and exit the race at any time.
- The flying zones are fully netted off.
- Course marking: red line, green line, wall-mounted triangles at ends.
The competitionSpeed prize for the fastest 10 consecutive laps of the course. If no-one makes 10 consecutive laps, the prize goes to the fastest 5 consecutive laps.
Endurance prize for greatest total number of laps achieved during the entire competition.
Kudos prize for the most impressive tech or trick, as voted by the other competitors (software-controlled overtake anyone?)
- Maximum vehicle take-off weight of 3 kg.
- Maximum vehicle size of 1 metre in any dimension.
- No combustion-engine powered vehicles are permitted. Sorry.
- No human intervention is permitted once the competitor is on the course. Control from any ground-station equipment via wireless link is permitted.
- Any wireless communications methods are permitted (e.g. Wifi, Bluetooth, XBee, 2.4GHz). However, we do expect all the competitors to co-operate with the judges to ensure EM compatibility between everybody.
- Unlimited attempts are permitted, at any time during the competition. Competitors may fly whenever a flying slot becomes available. A slot is defined as no less than 2 meters from the nearest competitor on entering the course.
- There is no limit on the vehicle configuration: fixed-wing, rotary, or hybrids are all permitted.
- Deliberate or excessive bumping and ramming is discouraged. What is deliberate or excessive? You will know it, the judges will know it, and then they will red-flag you.
PLEASE NOTE: the course and rules are provisional. We welcome your input on changes and additions that will make the racing faster, longer, and just better.
You need a yellow stripe along the floor to get a visual lock? No problemo.
You need a Wi-fi hub at the centre of the course to triangulate? You’ve got it.