More than 100 drone racers will compete for a purse of $125,000 at the third annual 2019 World Drone Racing Championship Grand Final in China, Dec. 11-14. The race is sanctioned by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (World Air Sports Federation).
Located 186 miles south of Shanghai, Xiangshan Ningbo is a small, coastal city sporting a newly built drone-racing track built for the competition by the Chinese government.
At just more than 2,000 feet long, the 13-foot wide track will be divided into three layers with 14 unique obstacles and 25 flags, including bridges and tunnels.
Dubbed Bi-Fish, the track is inspired by the traditional Chinese Tai Chi symbol. Officials say it embodies the maritime culture of Xiangshan Ningbo – a former fishing village.
“Drone racing is a fast-growing sport and the FAI is right there at the forefront,” FAI President Robert Henderson said.
Last week, officials announced the roster of 112 qualifying pilots. More than 100 will compete in four categories: Overall, Women, Junior and National representing 31 national teams. The rest will fly as individuals who qualified at the 2019 FAI Drone Racing World Cup in addition to three wild card entries.
Pilots qualify in one of four ways:
- Placing in the top 16 of the 2019 FAI Drone Racing World Cup rankings;
- Winning a 2019 Drone Racing Challenger World Cup Series event held throughout the year;
- Winning a podium place at the FAI Jeonju World Drone Masters in South Korea in November;
- Being selected as part of the participant’s national team with a maximum of five pilots.
“I am very happy to see such a wide field of talented drone racing pilots in the final selection. It will be a tough battle in Xiangshan, Ningbo in China, but an exciting one. We are all looking forward to the competition,” FAI Secretary General Susanne Schödel said.
Dec. 11 – Model processing and practice flights
Dec. 12 – Qualifying rounds and opening ceremony
Dec. 13 – Elimination rounds
Dec. 14 – Elimination rounds, finals, medal ceremonies and closing ceremony