Scot Refsland is the Founder and CEO of Flying Grounds, a new company focused on the intersection of Drone Sport and STEM Education. He is the founder of the Berkeley FPV Explorers and Racers meetup group with over 500 active pilots. Scot has a PhD in Virtual Reality from Gifu University, Japan with an undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California. Dr. Refsland’s focus is to help accelerate STEM education in order to prepare the US’s next generation workforce for a multi-disciplined sUAV industry. In 2015, his company organized the U.S. National Drone Racing Chapionships a the California State Fair and in 2016, he will present the first international drone competition, the Drone Worlds.
Scot is here to talk about the business of drone racing, the challenges of growing a new sport, the role of FPV racing in STEM education and the plans for the 2016 Drone Worlds. If you’re interested in FPV racing as a sport, entertainment or as a learning support tool, then you’re going to love this interview.
- [02:00] Introduction to Scot Refsland
- [02:28] Scot describes what drone racing (or FPV, First Person View) is and the origin of the sport.
- [04:55] FPV racing drones are different than aerial photography drones.
- [05:54] The Drone Pilots – The sport attracts primarily the tech enthusiast, but with ready-to-fly racing drones hitting the market, the composition of the participants is changing.
- [06:58] The Drone Nationals – Scot discusses the lessons learned through the 2015 Drone Nationals drone racing event, the technology that was used and how the results have been integrated into other racing events.
- [11:22] Technical Challenges – Solving the radio frequency challenges when multiple racers are flying
- [13:12] Course Design – Scot talks about the various course designs used in racing for speed, maneauverability and fan enjoyment.
- [14:58] Augmented Reality in Drone Racing – Central to this is the use of virtual reality systems together with actual racing to create an augmented reality experience.
- [16:59] Spectator Experience – Scot discusses the challenges and opportunities of creating a quality spectator experience for drone racing.
- [19:26] About Scot Refsland –Scot talks about his background as a techie, educator, virtual reality expert and his passion to advance STEAM education through drone racing.
- [25:39] 2016 Drone Worlds – Scot talks about the international drone racing event scheduled for October 17-22 in Hawaii featuring a full range of competitive racing and educational events.
- [29:26] Opportunities to Test New Technologies – Much like auto racing events, FPV drone racing events provide an opportunity to test new technologies or approaches.
- [31:27] Competing in the Drone Worlds – Scot outlines the process that would go through to compete in the 2016 Drone Worlds.
- [33:09] Drone Worlds Community – Scot shares his perspective and insights into the community of FPV drone racing world.
- [34:06] Economic Viability – Scot discusses the future economic opportunities of drone racing as a sport and business.
- Drone Worlds (www.droneworlds.com)