The European Rotor Sports Association (ERSA), the body that presides over all sanctioned drone racing events in Europe, announced on July 25 that the use of digital video transmission (instead of analog) was approved for all events it oversees. This approval comes after ERSA tested both analog and digital systems with their ability to co-exist in drone racing and freestyle events.
The reasoning for all the vigorous testing to check on the discrepancies between the two transmission modes might not be immediately apparent. However, there are a number of examples in sports where techniques or hardware create a controversy due to the difference in skill ceiling they provide. An example of this can be seen in the history of the high jump. Back in the 1930’s, the bar rested on the two pegs in a different manner than they do today. Some jumpers abused this fact with a different jumping style (dubbed the Western roll), which often did not dislodge the bar even if they hit it. As any sport progresses, rules and setups need to be revisited to update them with more modern times.
The difference between digital and analog is apparent for both the organizers and the pilots. Digital boasts better image quality and latency make it much easier for the pilots to participate, and the improved multi-pilot flying experience makes it a must have for the organizers. As we have seen across many drone racing events, there have been some ridiculous connectivity issues with multi-pilot scenarios, where feeds become duplicated or become erratic with grainy images being shown.
“As with any sport, FPV racing must evolve with technology and all-digital, latency free transmission is a major step forward for the sport. We have tested digital video transmission ourselves and consulted with experts around Europe and are confident in authorizing its use at ERSA events,” said Nigel Tomlinson, president of ERSA.
Tomlinson added that the decision on whether digital VTX will be allowed at specific events will be the choice of the individual organizer.
Hopefully, as more groups and countries begin to adopt this tech, both the skill level of pilots and the viewing experience for everyone else will go up.
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