Actually going fast is dangerous, though, and expensive if you want to do it safely. Thanks to Fat Shark, you can learn to race with two feet planted on the ground — by utilizing a first-person view (FPV) headset and a microdrone from the Fat Shark 101 drone training system.
At this year’s CES Drone Rodeo in Las Vegas, we spoke with Grant Martin (see above), vice president of marketing for Fat Shark, who gave us some insight into the thought process behind the training kit: “A lot of people have seen drone racing on ESPN or CBS, and they wonder, ‘How do I get into drone racing?’ This is the kit that does that. … It lowers the barrier for entry so you can easily understand [drones] and that you can do it at an affordable price point.”
The hook here is an upgradable system where users can beef up their kit piece by piece. “The Recon headset comes with [the kit], but you can upgrade to a pro-grade headset (Fat Shark offers several different options, which vary when it comes to form factor, display ratio, and field of view) … [The Recon] is the Ford Taurus of headsets, but you can upgrade to a BMW M3,” the company said. Users can upgrade their cameras, quadcopters, and controllers individually (though Fat Shark doesn’t sell copters or radios à la carte), which opens the possibility of incremental upgrades at a few hundred dollars per piece, rather than spending thousands on a new drone all at once.
The system offers three different modes, depending upon the user’s level of expertise. “Easy mode,” for example, automatically stabilizes the quadcopter so you can learn the ropes without fear of the drone accidentally flying away (or crashing and burning). Although the kit is designed specifically for drone racing, beginners could easily have fun just flying around.
We also spoke with Fat Shark CEO Allan Evans, who was nice enough to stop by the Digital Trends CES booth for a quick interview. While drone classes are available, they’re typically aimed at professionals, and can cost thousands of dollars. Evans says that the company saw a need for a simple and comprehensive package aimed at teaching consumers how to fly drones safely and affordably. “It’s important to go through that educational process, because historically it’s been very hard,” he said. The company has invested in step-by-step instruction videos, which Evans sees as vital to making drone flying accessible.