FAI Aeromodelling Commission (CIAM)

03 Sep 2017

Drones at the cutting edge

The sun came out for the third and final day of the FAI International Drones Conference and Expo in Lausanne, Switzerland.

After two days of talking and hearing about the world of drones and drone technology, it was time to see some of the latest ideas and action in real-time.

Hosted by the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne an ideas expo showcased more than a dozen of the latest cutting-edge developments in drone technology.

Projects included PhD student Przemyslaw Kornatowski introducing the PackDrone – a cargo-carrying drone in a collapsible ‘cage’ that protects users from the potential danger of fast-spinning rotor blades. “We have been trialling it on campus for two weeks now,” he said. “It has completed 150 successful flights.”

And Roland Siegwart showed off a pair of ‘master’ and ’slave’ drones that can collaborate to lift heavy loads. “Like ants working together to move something much heavier than they are,” he explained.

Outside in the sunshine, the final rounds of the Swiss Rotorsports Association Cup were played out in front of crowds of interested spectators.

The final round came down to a 90-second battle between the best four pilots from an initial 64. They raced head-to-head around the assault course of obstacles, with Dario Neuenschwander, 28, emerging as champion.

“I have been flying drones for two years,” he explained afterwards, “and this is my first win as national champion, so I am happy!”

Before Neuenschwander flew drones he was a Swiss champion in flying remote-controlled helicopters too, so winning is not new. How do the two disciplines compare? “Flying drones is first person view so it is completely different. With the helicopter you fly line of sight, so it’s different and you do different things.”

He added: “I fly and practise every weekend. There is a lot of luck involved in FPV drone racing, so this was my lucky day.”