Thrust UAV and PCS Edventures are using the Goodwill Festival of Speed as a testbed for drone-related activities that could inspire and engage the youth in physics, science, and engineering.
Recreational drone users and hobbyists are living in the best possible time for fostering an enthusiast culture around unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). There are hundreds of communities springing up, from competing in duels with the help of the Aerial Sports League or finding a new way to surf, to thousands of spectators being interested in ESPN’s Drone Racing Championships. Drones are here to stay, and there’s a lot of fun to be had. But Thrust UAV director of business operations Joe Egusquiza feels like there’s a bigger opportunity here: to inspire the youth to take an interest in engineering, science, physics, and math. Together with Thrust UAV’s parent company, PCS Edventures, the firm is testing this theory at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where several other tech-related events are presented to onlookers and attendees. The festival is in full swing, culminating this Sunday.
The idea is to let kids assemble drones to get a sense of how they operate, and to excite them with the prospect of utilizing their minds to see tangible results. In a world where science and physics aren’t as exciting to a child as is their phone is Thrust UAV, in collaboration with Star Foundation, believe that this could be an effective way of engaging the youth. Currently, the testbed is the Golf Course at Goodwood’s Festival of Speed, and the plan is to later implement this program in schools across Europe and the UK.
Once kids learn how to put a drone together, they’ll move on to using the Graphic User Interface (GUI) to configure its settings and calibrate it. Ultimately, of course, they get to fly the machine, which is a cathartic and satisfying sensation for many adults, never mind a young child. It’s moments like this that can change a child’s perception, and inspire them to keep learning new skills. And what comes after successfully and reliably piloting a drone? Racing a drone, of course.
The drone being used in this preliminary testing stage of the (hopefully successful) program is a RubiQ, which has several benefits. First, it’s tethered to a master controller in case anything goes wrong and somebody more professional needs to take over. Secondly, there’s a useful “Return to Home” option which quickly returns the UAV to its point of origin and lands it. Having overseers and security measures like this allows for a hierarchy of skill levels through which teachers can categorize classes by experience and talent.
Drone racing isn’t the only STEM-friendly program making its debut at Goodwood’s Festival of Speed. “Future Lab”, which will showcase the Robocar, flying car prototypes, and virtual reality (VR) tools, is a first for Goodwood as well. According to Pistonheads, Joe Egusquiza says that this is exactly the type of program that will help children become innovators of the future—and, maybe, terrific racers as well.