how 'the da vinci of drones' ryan gury designed the DRL Racer3
 

how 'the da vinci of drones' ryan gury designed the DRL Racer3

at the drone racing league (DRL) headquarters in manhattan, ryan gury sat in front of me with a little, polygon drone beside him. that machine — which had all but sprung from his head and into his hands — was called the Racer3 and without it, drone racing wouldn’t be possible.

 

no one is going to watch a bunch of gnats in a field, circling a few gates,’ ryan explained.

DRL
all images courtesy of DRL

 

 

gnats in a field. three years ago, before DRL changed everything, that’s what drone races were like. the sport consisted of a few rogue racers flying hacked rigs in empty fields.

DRL

 

 

 

amateur rigs (gnats) vary from pilot to pilot. their carbon plates differ, but when they strap on their first person view (FPV) goggles, the feeling is the same — like strapping into a cockpit. the rigs disappear. fields explode into limitless, 3-dimensional tracks. pilots twist and dive and become one with their machines.

DRL

 

 

 

but without the Racer3 — onlookers feel none of that. to most spectators, it just looks like a squad of goggle-wearers, screaming at the empty air in a grassy lot behind a home depot.

DRL

 

 

 

the cockpit of a drone is more exhilarating than ryan’s ducati, but that feeling is impossible to capture for audiences without the Racer 3. the Racer3 is something you can see, something fast that you, the viewer, and you, the pilot, both can feel — something better described by the designer himself. designboom was invited to speak with ryan gury, lead drone designer at DRL. there, they call him, the da vinci of drones.

DRL

 

 

 

designboom (DB): where does your design process begin?

 

ryan gury (RG): we start with sketching. we do two things. I use dropmark and I just take a ton of curated images online — whether they be spaceships or F16s — and we start compiling those into topics. so for Racer3, we had a lot of stealth fighters thrown into the canopy that you can see, so it’s low polygon. the low polygon movement was pretty big last year, so there’s a little bit of that in there. from there, we sketch. we probably had two to three hundred sketches of Racer3 before we started it. we then move into mechanical, which understands the interior inclosure and the electronics package and avionics package inside the drones — go back to sketching, around that mechanical, and then we go to full mechanical and then we actually manufacture. same thing: sketch, mechanical, sketch, mechanical, manufacture.

DRL

 

 

 

DB: how do these drones go from 0 – 80 mph in under half a second?

 

RG: the main thing about a racing drone is the power to weight ratio. they don’t weigh very much and they have a tremendous amount of power that comes out of them, so, they accelerate to full speed in under a half second. even the fastest drone in the world that we made, RacerX — that was 0 to 180 miles per hour in half a second… and in a bike, you know, I have a motorcycle now that goes 0 to 60 in five seconds… that’s a long time. the drone would be 3 times that speed in a half second. so, when…when you approach a racing drone and flying a racing drone, you’re moving faster than you can move anywhere else. it’s almost like transpor…like…like teleportation. you know speed is, speed is one of the best feelings. going fast…everything that comes from it… I’m not sure why humans appreciate it so much, but flying in a drone is so aggressively fast and amazing.

DRL

 

 

 

DB: so you experience the same satisfaction in a drone that you would a motorcycle?

 

RG: yeah. it seems really silly, but yeah. I grab a bunch of my FPV and drone racing gear. I get on a backback. I jump on a bike and I go to a 3D space. I unpack and I fly. and the feeling of the speed of the drone with the VR goggles is greater than the feeling of being on a performance motorcycle, absolutely. it’s just so much faster. and it’s not like twice as fast. it’s like 10 times faster than a car or a motorcycle. and when you’re flying with the goggles, you become one with the drone. you cannot tell that you’re on the ground anymore. you forget where you are and you just become that machine. it’s an amazing little trick. and that feeling inside your body when you’re doing that — it’s just pure ecstasy. it’s awesome.

DRL

 

 

 

DB: what’s the difference between a typical racing drone and DRL’s Racer3?

 

RG: pilots typically race — we call them rigs. so it’s a piece of carbon, a carbon plate, with electronics on top of it and a battery. and that’s made to be as lightweight and strong as possible, because you hit a billion things when you’re flying so fast. I fly an FPV rig. it’s about a year old. I change out the electronics every week to stay up to date. that’s what typical people around the world fly. carbon plate. electronics. battery…and some radios. for DRL, we fly Racer3. it has 500 LEDs on it. it has a canopy on it, so you can see it. it goes 80 mph and it’s made to take considerable damage and to be able to scale really quickly. we can make 600 of these in a few days, and we can throw them against the wall and rebuild the fleet immediately. they have very advanced radios on them, so we can send them behind walls and beyond, way beyond line of sight, so they can fly very far away, and they fly for a good amount of time compared to typical racing drones, so they can complete a mile and a half long course. so this…this is — this was created to allow drone racing to happen. 

 

I very much believe that without the Racer3, drone racing really doesn’t exist. if you can’t see the sport, there is no sport. this was made for the sport.

DRL

 

 

 

DB: what do you love about DRL?

 

RG: everyday I’m at work, i’m doing something that i haven’t done the day prior. I feel like no one in the world gets to do. whether were making the next generation racer, or were making the next speed drone, or were making a physics architecture for drone racing for a video game. it’s a whole new era and it’s a whole new industry. no one has ever been here before. you feel like lewis and clark. it’s awesome. and we get to break things and we get to fail and we get to iterate and we get to experiment and that becomes habitual and calming and you know, the best thing about design is erasing and starting over and iterating. and we’re allowed a ton of freedom to do that. it’s a really awesome place. traditional sports have been around for 100s of years and they’re stagnant and they have not changed and you grow up with those patterns and you get used to them. we’re developing something that’s never been done before. we are flying really aggressive robots, very high performance robots, through 3D spaces and whether that be tron or star wars or video games, that’s something people expect a certain level of performance and polish on. we have a huge amount of responsibility to our audience to kill it and make it awesome.

 

today, DRL announced the launch of its 2018 season — including the locations that will be transformed into 3-dimensional tracks. these locations include:

 

woodward west, the world-class camp for pro skateboarders and bmxers in tehachapi, california, USA
university of arizona’s biosphere 2, the largest enclosed ecological observatory on the planet, located in oracle, arizona, USA
• the adventuredome at circus circus las vegas, a five-acre indoor amusement park in las vegas, nevada, USA
allianz riviera, a gigantic football stadium in nice, france
BMW welt, the multisensory brand and product experience center of the bmw group, located in the heart of munich, germany
jeddah, saudi arabia

 

  • There are so many racers and teams that are advancing the FPV racing sport in multiGP and other grass roots race circuits… we do it every day without name calling… for this guy to call our gear gnats and make our sport seem insignificant is disrespectful… you don’t need to put down others to make yourself look better… that’s called being a bully.

    Dan says:
  • Eh… All Ryan did was throw some LED’s on it. He and DRL used my ESC’s to snag the tittle of worlds fastest drone RacerX(without credit to me haha). Am onto bigger and better things. Over 140mph, and 4 times as large in front of actual race fans haha https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_AkudBdcq0

    Did Ryan hand sculpt his canopy? Did he spec out the motors by hand? have new propellers developed to achieve faster speeds? Did he hand sculpt and design an aerodynamic canopy to push the boundaries of speed? Nah.

    It’s easy to forget about the little guys and girls who made it really possible and easy to get lost in the flash and excitement of big entertainment productions 🙂

    Zoe Stumbaugh says:
  • He called amateur drones gnats? All he did i took the “gnat” parts and put them into a plastic case with Leds! Our GNATS can be way better. You said it changed the drone racing world? – Well when they build it, it already had outdated components like these Tornado T2 motors. We used these in 2016… The racer 3 is 500+ grams… when our 2018 gnats are 250g…

    Olitoni says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
LOG IN
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

PRODUCT LIBRARY

a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

technology news

×
keep up with our daily and weekly stories
491,175 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample