FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTUU) - There's a buzz in the air around Fairbanks, as UAF holds its first ever drone races.
On Sunday, the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration, or ACUASI, at UAF, raced drones around the Patty Center ice arena for several hours. ACUASI officials say it's an effort to bring the community together and generate interest in a growing program.
"This sparks a lot in of interest engineering and many other fields," said Nick Adkins, Director of Operations, ACUASI. "These guys have to solder small tiny circuit boards to make these things work. The thumb skills that are being used in today’s world, they can be transferred for future jobs in unmanned aviation."
For three hours, dozens of kids, college students and adults watched as several drone pilots did laps around a man made hoops-style course, traveling at a speed of roughly 40 mph.
"It’s a really neat new form of racing, because now you have that vertical component of the race course that you normally don’t have with your standard racing," said Matthew Westhoff, ACUASI. "So it’s just a really neat sport with a lot of potential.”
"There’s a camera on the front of the drone, and essentially it’s transmitting video back to your goggles," said Jon Johnson, drone pilot. "So when you’re putting these goggles on, you feel like you are in it. You're the NASCAR driver, only you’re doing it in the air and not on the ground.”
Adkins says depending on the level of interest from students at UAF, he hopes to create a drone racing team at the University.