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FPV Drone racing – Sport with drones

by Fabio Affortunato
Drone Racing Sport
Reading time / Tempo lettura : 4 minutes / minuti

Drive drones like F1 – FPV Drone racing

The FPV drone racing has achieved considerable notoriety in the past two years thanks also to the multiplication of events around the world. National and international championships have made drone racing a very popular sport. So let’s find out the basics of this exciting drone sport.

What is the FPV drone racing?

It is a sporting competition between drone pilots, whose characteristics are substantially different from both commercial and professional drones.

The race consists in completing a certain number of laps, at maximum speed, in a varied circuit, without obviously falling. The FAI World Drone racing Championships 2018 video, taken from the FAI Air Sport Channel YouTube channel (link to the official FAI website), gives the idea.

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A competition drone is much smaller than a commercial drone, has great maneuverability and is piloted with the help of smart glasses or “Goggles” for the First Person View (see glossary).

For this reason, drone races are frequently referred to as FPV drone racing. The race consists in completing a certain number of laps in the shortest possible time, respecting the geometry of the circuit.

The union between the pilot and the goggles is therefore essential, hence some limitations for carrying out this outdoor sport.

The circuit

The circuit for the racing drone is normally made up of a series of rings, luminous arches, obstacles, sharp corners, through which you have to pilot your drone at maximum speed.

Regarding the speed, it is good to point out that small drones easily reach 150km/h. The speed record reached with a drone (Racer X) is 289 km/h. It is therefore clear that a racing drone is nothing but a toy!

Returning to the circuit, this can be both outdoors (outdoor) and indoors (indoor). A self-respecting route follows FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) guidelines. The track can develop between 300 and 400 meters in length.

The rules relating to the organization of FPV drone racing competitions at an international level, the layout of the circuits and the procedures for carrying out the tests and selections, are available at this link (English), on the FAI website.

Indoor Vs outdoor circuits

The recent development of indoor circuits compared to outdoor circuits in our country derives from the need to solve the ENAC obstacle which in the SAPR regulation prohibits FPV outdoor flight for model aircraft.

From 1st January 2016, the FPV drone racing has become a model aircraft discipline of FAI. In Italy, events concerning this sport are authorized by the Aero Club of Italy, in compliance with the rules published by ENAC regarding model aircraft, hence the limitations.

Gates, LED, Flags – The elements of the circuit

The elements that make up the circuit for the racing drone can be traced back to the following categories: Gates (bows), Flags (flags), Rings – Hops (rings) and many LEDs (colored lights). These elements arranged according to precise guidelines characterize the circuit together with appropriate geometries (straight stretches, jumps and sharp curves).

LEDs play an important role in delimiting the circuit layout and in signaling some elements. Last but not least, the laps counters, tuned to the radio frequency of the drones to indicate the number of laps completed and times.

A wide selection of the main manufacturers of accessories for racing drone is available in Blog.

Sport with strictly rules

Those who want to participate in races and events regarding FPV drone racing, in Italy, must have a model flight certificate, be enrolled in an AeCI AeroClub, and must have the FAI card to participate in the official championship.

In summary, this means that those who want to practice this sport just for fun or occasionally, must enroll in a federated aeroclub that is recognized and enabled to perform the FPV drone racing inside.

The drone for racing

Once you have overcome the bureaucratic aspects (assuming that you have organized your circuit in the grandfather’s barn), you must have the vehicle, or the competition drone. There are various models on the market.

Normally we refer to drones ranging from 180 mm to 250 mm, where the indicated measurement refers to the diagonal of the axis of the motors. The type of propeller, frame, engines, and ESC complete the reference elements to keep in mind when choosing your racing drone.

Drone Racing

Sample of racing drone – Source pixabay.com – free for commercail use  – Author Gábor Adonyi

If you are a beginner, it is convenient to buy a Ready To Fly (RFT) drone. With the experience you can then move on to Do It Yourself (DIY) drones to be assembled according to your needs.

To know how to read the technical specs of a racing dronee read the article “Drone for racing – The features” from the Blog.

Choose the goggles

It has already been said that the FPV drone racing is based on piloting the drone with the help of glasses for the First Person View. These can be purchased bundled with the drone (there are several kits on the market that include goggles), or separately.

Googles Fpv

Sample of goggles – Source pixabay.com — free for commercail use  – Author Gábor Adonyi

In the second case it is important to know that the chosen model is fully compatible with the radio part of your drone. So it is essential that they are equipped with a modular video receiver or alternatively with a built-in video receiver (VRX), more obsolete than the modular receiver, but essential for correct operation.

Other parameters to be evaluated are: the resolution (the higher the better), the aspect ratio (16: 9 or 4: 3), the Field of View (FOV) (higher FOV for more immersive image), interpupillary distance (IDP), the diversity for obtaining a more reliable signal and finally the integrated DVR for recording videos on SD card.


FPV drone racing is a sport that in Italy is taking its first steps in a difficult environment.

The growing interest in this sport is certainly an important driving force for the more widespread diffusion of suitable infrastructures both for carrying out both the practice and competitions at regional and national level.

Well, outdoor practice introduces new difficulties to this discipline such as wind, the development of even small circuits in indoor environments is the starting point to push the bodies responsible for rationally and consciously regulating a sport suitable for adults and little ones.

Note relating to images: The images showed in the article are taken from pixabay.com, and are free for commercial use, with no attribution request. Each image however mentions the author who is its legitimate owner. The use of images and videos is exclusively for the purpose of a better understanding of the article. The author of the featured image is Siggy Nowak. The video FAI World Drone racing Championships 2018, taken from youtube, and is published by the FAI Air Sport Channel. Below is the link to the official FAI website.

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Last Updated on/Ultimo aggiornamento – 14/10/2021

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