ESTEVAN — The Southeast Techhub has recently introduced another innovative initiative to benefit people in the area.
The Estevan Drone Racing Club held its first meeting at the Wylie Mitchell Hall on March 8. Anyone willing to learn more about drones, figure out how to fly them and then race is welcome to join them every Wednesday from 6-8 p.m.
Southeast Techhub executive director Gord More said the idea of creating a club came to him in December when he was working on the business plan for the hub. It was born out of his personal experience of being a professional, licensed pilot for around 10 years and running into people with a lot of misunderstandings about the technology of drones and also a lot of interest towards those flying machines.
“I was filming the speedway race cars with my high-speed drone, and I didn't realize how much people were enjoying it until later on. People would approach me and said that it was really a lot of fun watching the drone go around. And with my tech hat on, I realized, what a fantastic opportunity to break down the misunderstanding that some people have about innovation and technology,” More shared.
Drones are a lot of fun, More said, and he wants to build on that energy. He has two drones that club members can try and see if it’s for them. And if they want to further develop the hobby and eventually start racing, they can learn how to build their own drone or buy one later on.
“The key part here is they learn how they can control the drone, and they learn more about how drones work, so the misunderstanding that a lot of people have about what drones are, would go away,” More said.
He added that the ultimate goal of the Estevan Drone Racing Club resonates with the general Techhub’s goal, which is building a space, both physical and cultural, for technology and innovation in Estevan. And the club is another tool for it.
He noted that in the future, he hopes Estevan can attract and host drone racing events of different scales.
“There is international drone racing, where winners travel the world and can make millions of dollars a year in prize money and sponsorships. I would love, at the ground level, to turn this drone racing team into another port tournament that Estevan can host. Maybe not at the international level, but at one of those lower levels. I would love to see it grow to the point where we have people coming from other parts of the world to race here in Estevan,” More said, sharing his vision.
Come summer, the club hopes to move their practices to the Power Dodge Arena.
There is no cost to become a member for the first year, and people can use More's drones to see if that hobby is for them. More noted that the club is open to all ages; it’s for kids as much as it is for “big kids.”
"I also want to be really clear, it's open to women and men, and I strongly encourage the women in the community to join as well. We need more women in technology,” More said.
He added that he finds that often drones might be a bit too difficult to figure out for most kids under the age of seven or eight, but they are still welcome to come and try.
The club will also have an opportunity to fly and race in front of the public this summer.
“During the races this year, during the intermission, the speedway has given us permission to race the drones around the speedway track,” More said.
Racing drones can reach speeds of up to 250 kilometres per hour. For organized races, they fly through hoops to ensure they stay on a virtual track, More explained. Sometimes hoops are regular, but there are also races where neon LED hoops are used to make lit-up drones, racing in the dark, even more fascinating.
For more on the Estevan Drone Racing Club and to register go to their website through estevanhub.ca.