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Husky Flying Club: Training Drones and Multi-GP Racing Course Setup
Department of Aerospace and Astronautics
First-person view (FPV) drone racing is a hobbyist sport wherein pilots fly high-performance quadcopters through a course while wearing a virtual reality (VR) headset connected to a camera on the drone. This proposal requests funds to purchase 8 new Tiny Whoop drones, 36 batteries, 6 headsets, 6 more radios, 1 start/finish race gate, 8 racing gates, and 14 flags to provide safe practice drones to the beginner-intermediate pilot levels in the club. While we were authorized to purchase the racing drones from the last STF proposal, the Tiny Whoops were unavailable during the time. Hence, we are only able to train intermediate/advanced users. Purchasing this equipment will allow us to use the drones from the last STF order for competition and safe practice flights for new UW student pilots. The Husky Flying Club (HFC) drone racing team is part of the HFC RSO at UW, consisting of a growing 140 undergraduate students as of November 2021. The club and its equipment are operated entirely by UW students, with faculty only involved as advisors. HFC operates three VR flight simulators from a previous STF award, providing opportunities for students to develop flight skills in manned aviation. The HFC drone racing team seeks to offer this same opportunity and exposure to students interested in the developing field of unmanned aviation. The HFC drone racing team is the first organization of its kind on the UW campus, providing entry-level access to unmanned flights to all students, regardless of experience or technical background. FPV racing is a popular and growing sport, with at least 27 other universities with established drone teams, including UC Berkeley, Oregon State, and the U.S. Air Force Academy. HFC currently has a fleet of operational racing drones purchased from previous STF funding and limited tools and support equipment. With this funding, HFC seeks to expand its drone operations to a competitive level in the local and collegiate scene. Materials to upgrade and maintain racing drones, and equipment to operate practice drones will be crucial to developing the team into a competitive group, as well as providing a more involved educational experience for all members of the club. This expanded drone fleet will make unmanned aviation technology newly accessible to the students of the University of Washington.
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