Drone racing and Star Wars, it's as if these two things were destined—probably written of long ago in scrolling yellow writing—to come together. And now they have finally, thankfully, been united by a group of French quadcopter racing fanatics.
With a nod to the insanely good speeder bike chase on the forest moon of Endor in Return of the Jedi, and also the fast-flying pod race (below) from the not-so-insanely good Phantom Menace, this group of drone enthusiasts take to the woods in Airgonay, France for a trial run with the aim of organising a drone race event in the future.
The video is in French, so you'll have to hit the subtitles button to get an idea of what they're saying. But once you do you'll see them talk about what they call a "new discipline", which involves FPV (first person view) remote-controlled quadcopter racing on a 150m forest circuit.
The pilots compete in groups of four and see the circuit through video glasses only. The camera-mounted drones, which are custom-built to a smaller size to maximise effectiveness, relay the footage of the track back to the user.
"Shaped for the race, these racing drones offer the best trade-off between speed and manoeuvrability." states the video. "And the main difference is in the pilot's vision which, unlike in the traditional use where they never lose sight of the drone, the pilot doesn't see his drone but only what the camera of his drone is revealing." So it's a bit like a headset-enabled VR video game except set in the real-world, as confusing as that sounds.
And with woodland obstacles like low-hanging tree branches plus your fellow racers, combined with the shadow-play of the light edging through the trees, you need the instincts and reflexes of a Jedi to compete. Or so they claim. You need to use the Force. There, I said it.
If you fancy getting involved, they have a Facebook page and mention in the vid that they'll be running an international competitive event next year.