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Drone Club using virtual reality to augment racing

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A photo taken by a drone shows a different angle of Ohio Stadium than the one seen by most fans. Credit: Courtesy of the Ohio State Drone Club

Discovering every place on Ohio State’s campus might require several hours and a pair of sturdy shoes. But with the aid of a drone and cameras, some students have found a way to do it in 15 minutes.

The Ohio State Drone Club was founded in 2015 and has sent members to drone competitions across the country during its mission to expand drone access, knowledge and exposure to OSU students. As drones have become more advanced, virtual reality has added to the experience.

“With the first-person view goggles attached, I feel like I am sitting in the drone cabin, and immersing into the speed and power. This is incredible,” said Aaron Ye, the vice president of the club and a second-year in finance.

In the past several years, more and more drones have been adapted with VR hardware, enabling an improved flying experience, Ye said.

“Because VR provides more accuracy, all the racing drones have adapted to this hardware within the past few years,” he said.

Ye recently placed second for at an intercollegiate indoor drone race hosted by the Purdue Drone Club, one of the largest collegiate drone clubs in the country.

“We need more experienced people to join our team to compete with universities such as Purdue University or the University of Illinois,” Ye said.

James Gaydos, president of the Drone Club and a third-year in mechanical engineering, said the more camera angles that he can get as a pilot, the better.

“I am trying to build a system to allow me to switch buttons, so that I see different things while I am flying,” he said.

Gaydos also said he is also trying to make the equipment cheaper for OSU students.

“We are working with (different) shops to see if they would allow us to loan out equipment,” said Gaydos. “We want to make access to this hobby easier.”

With winter drifting away, the OSU Drone Club is scheduling its first outdoor flying practices.

“I am sure there will be crashes,” Gaydos said.

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