AMERICAN drone racer Shaun “Nytfury” Taylor is competing in Ballarat for fun, but back home in Albuquerque drones have quick become a key part of his job.
Mr Taylor is a firefighter. Drones are a key modern tool in aerial operations, particularly for locating lost hikers in the New Mexico’s mountainous terrain.
As a sport Mr Taylor is relatively new to drone racing but enticed to try it by a friend, his competitive nature kicked in. Online store HobbyKing worked with the pair on an Arc200 drone design and flew them out to Australia, by plane, for tour.
D1 National Drone Racing Challenge drew fast, furious competition at Ballarat Exhibition Centre this weekend. Mr Taylor said he was strictly a racer, admitting he did not quite have the skills to contest freestyle just yet. While not into gaming, Mr Taylor said that pulling on the goggles and focusing on vision from his drone’s camera was an adrenaline rush.
“This is as close as I’ll ever probably get to flying,” Mr Taylor said. “I reckon it’s just as nerve-wracking, if not more, than car racing. With this, you’re just using your thumbs on a control. There’s not much outlet for all that adrenaline. In a car, when you can move a lot more.”
Mr Taylor said operating drones was a new skill but technology was fast improving. Stallholders nearby the race arena emphasised how diverse use for the flying machines could be, particularly with his sharp tilt and turn ability. Use has included sports photography and vision, like programming to track downhill skiiers.
Drones fitted with near-infrared technology are becoming popular in agriculture to identify plant health undetected by the human eye, allowing farmers a chance to target fertalising to save crops and money.
Ballarat Exhibition Centre owner David Sanders said hosting the racing challenge offered an exciting chance to showcase potential.
“This event might be a little left-field but shows Ballarat new opportunities and new technology,” Mr Sanders said. "We’re excited to host this event but we can only continue to keep attracting events like this to Ballarat if Ballarat people really step up and get behind them.”
The centre will host a cutting edge business technology expo, in partnership with Ballarat Grammar, in August.
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