Went to a drone race Thursday as part of the entertainment. The little (about 9 in square) critters are fast, agile, and flown from remote seats using VR goggles. The venue was indoors at a place called the Glitter Dome which also features Roller Derby. Lighting was what you would expect from a nightclub with the volume turned up appropriately. 4 drones are raced at a time with scoring being the number of laps completed in 2 minutes. The course features aluminum pylons with moving concert lights attached, and cloth draped between the floor and ceiling in an artistic manner. The craft alternate between flying under the drapes and over them up near the ceiling. Here are 4 pilots ready to begin:
Teams are identified by color and the drones have similarly colored lights on them. As they pass by the "front straight" the infamous pedal air gun is poised to have a shot at them using "nerf" darts made from pipe insulation.
In the last heat of the night the second hit on a drone happened, a good shot tagging the back side of one, giving it a bit of a speed boost but doing no damage. 2 total hits for the entire evening was about the high end of what I had expected. Both hits by the way were made by women. The audience seemed to be rooting for the gunners.
The pits looked a lot like the pits at a Critter Crunch robot fighting competition with dozens of nerds busily putting the finishing touches on their machines. Here there were a lot more laptops involved.
I'm seeing the next generation of fighter pilots flying from a hanger or a passenger plane a long ways from the actual battle space. The next generation of fighters will be limited only by the ultimate structural strength of the air frame.