As electronics get impressively smaller, the possibilities for new technology continue to become more diverse (and often more interesting). One of the fastest growing industries in technology is that of multi-rotor helicopters, commonly known as drones. Everyone from hobbyists to big companies like Amazon are looking to drones with intense interest.
Given their popularity and their technical nature, it’s no surprise that makerspaces are proving to be popular gathering spots for drone enthusiasts. Makerspace North, in Ottawa, is one such place, hosting almost weekly drone meetups throughout the summer where members can gather, share knowledge, and fly their drones together in a safe environment.
This group of hobbyists and hardcore drone pilots hit a critical mass this year, resulting in a day-long festival in Ottawa this past weekend, called Ottawa DroneFest. The first of its kind in Canada’s capital, the festival took place at the Oz Dome in Kanata, and included activities for all ages, as well as areas where more casual flyers can charge their drones or get help and advice from seasoned experts.
The main event of the festival was a drone race using FPV (“first person view”) technology, involving piloting your craft using the camera on-board and an immersive VR headset. Watching these races shows you just how far this technology has come, but it also makes it clear it is anything but easy.
In many of the three-lap races, only one or two drones actually finished a lap of the fairly simple course, with fly-through hoops proving formidable challenges to all pilots.
In the end, the festival was a great showcase of the advanced wireless technology that goes into remote controlled flight and video capture. The event also highlighted the incredible hard work and dedication of the people at Makerspace North to sharing their love of home-built devices and cool technology with young and old festival-goers alike. While Transport Canada continues to mull over the security and privacy implications of drones, as evidenced by their presence and interview questions at the event, they remain an area of interest for these pilots.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit one of these spaces before, you should definitely find the makerspace closest to you and try to get involved. If you’re in Ottawa, make sure to visit Makerspace North in person at 216-250 City Centre Ave.