MONTREAL – The first annual Montreal Drone Expo took place on Saturday, showcasing drone racing while inviting spectators to participate in the new sport.
More than 60 pilots from all over Canada participated in the event competing for the chance to be the Canadian qualifiers for the Drone Nationals World Drone Racing Championships and the International Drone Racing Association (IDRA) North American Cup.
Ryan Walker is one of the participating drone pilots and has been flying drones for about a year.
He even builds his own.
“I will sometimes be out by myself flying for 30 minutes and I’ll fly past my face. I’ll get this wind but it won’t register that it’s me, that I just flew past. You become the drone.”
Every drone is driven by someone, the camera on the small device then transmits to goggles.
Walker explains the experience is similar to playing a video game, but the only difference is that its success depends on the pilot’s hand-eye coordination.
“If you crash, you’re fixing it,” Walker said.
“But at the same time, if you want to fly over trees or fly through trees – no other thing can give you that experience.”
That is the kind of experience on display at the Montreal Drone Expo.
The first of its kind in the city, the expo gives spectators a chance to witness Canada’s biggest drone racing event and even participate in it.
“We’ve got a lot of goggles here today that you can actually put on and watch from the point of views of the pilot,” said Matthew Zoerm, one of the event’s organizers.
The expo hopes to entice more people to take up the sport.
The event created a kids zone for children eight and up, to showcase how drones work.
There were also booths with drone flying simulators for all ages to let spectators virtually try and be a pilot.
“It’s better than a video game in my opinion because this is your drone and when you’re flying it, you will see yourself and it doesn’t look like it so it’s combining the reality and the virtual together which makes it a really cool experience,” said Zoerm.