We have developed a live link system and this is commercially available now. In addition, RaceTech has a small lightweight F450 Quadcopter, with stabilised GoPro, perfect for web site content – call us for more information.
The Heliguy Ikarus RPA is an Octocopter powered by 8 brushless electric motors, with a DJI Wookong Flight Controller. It carries a Movi 10 gimbal with camera and live downlink and is controlled by a 2.4 Ghz Futaba FASST radio control system. Its take off mass including batteries, depending on camera payload is between 11kg and 13kg. It is being introduced as part of a raft of new facilities to enhance the coverage of Horse Racing and other events. Usage will include providing live racing pictures from starts and areas away from main grandstands. It will be vital to maintain a safe and legal distance from people and horses.
RaceTech has satisfied the CAA and been granted permission to operate in the UK. This would include all racecourses in the UK, with the permission of the racecourse. There are occasionally further permissions to be obtained, for example a racecourse is within controlled airspace. We have recently undertaken this step for Ayr and Haydock. Other courses such as Thirsk may be within an Airfield Traffic Zone, in which case permission is required from their ATC (air traffic control) before take off.
RaceTech decided that in order to operate on racecourses, there must always be an observer as well as a pilot. The main duty is to observe people and horses as well as other air users and inform the pilot accordingly. For example, at Redcar recently when approaching horses, the observer was looking for any signs of distress or disturbance amongst them. After more than a dozen initial flights with horses, they have shown little interest and absolutely no concern. RaceTech also decided to take the unusual step of operating with a longer focal length lens. Whilst means that pictures may be less steady, they do mean that the aircraft need get no closer than 100ft.
Articles 166 and 167 require us to maintain 150 metres distance from large gatherings of more than 1000. There is an opportunity to put forward a safety case to reduce this distance. To achieve this, the CAA must be satisfied that there is sufficient mitigation of any risk. We intend applying for this in due course.
Once airborne, technical issues are fortunately few. Current maximum duration is 30 minutes per battery set. Our FRCs outline that we will operate for a maximum of 15 minutes in order to leave a safe margin. The system has to include a Return To Home function in case of control link loss. We are currently developing a live video link so that the system can deliver live pictures.
In production….. First person perspective cameras are a hot topic in horse racing. The task is to produce a wearable camera that combines the primary consideration of safety with the interactive experience for viewers to see a jockey’s eye view of race riding – thrills, spills and all.