Reasons Why Should You Not Operate a Drone at an FRC Competition (As well as alternative solutions to accomplish the same goal)

Hello There ChiefDelphi!

I admit that this Topic is a bit frivolous, but I’m starting to notice that is what Summer CD is for. Yesterday, a teammate of mine, @Gavin0 was telling me about a plan of his to bring a drone to an off-season event in order to get an unobstructed bird’s-eye view of the field. Please respond with the vast array of reasons why this may not be a good idea, as he might be more likely to listen to others, than just myself.

Thank You.


While Off Season events sometimes differ from official in season events, I’d point your teammate to the official event rules. Specifically E109-C:

E109. *Some things don’t belong at events. Do not bring or use the following:
A. skateboards
B. ‘hoverboards’
C. drones


Obvious reasons first:
1 Rules as mentioned above.
2 SAFETY!! Spinning blades DO NOT belong anywhere near human flesh.
3 Distraction to audience and drive teams.
4 Potential for RF interference with the field.

BTW, I am a drone fanatic, I own and built them regularly.


I think that’s a great idea to drone film a few matches at an offseason for this game! In a game like 2022’s Rapid React, operating a drone over the field is a much worse, given the flying balls, but in this game it would likely be fine.

As long as the event staff of the off-season are on-board you could get some really cool shots!


This ^^^

Getting in touch with the event organizers and asking for their permission would be the best way to either run with the idea, or know it’s definitely off the table.


I would like to point out, for the sake of argument, that many drones come with, or have optional attachment safety covers for indoor flight that prevent contact with the blades.

The rest of your points are valid though.


I would never attempt to do this at a competition that FIRST is running but an offseason might be ok.

If I were you I would talk to the head ref and the FTA to get their approval just no one gets in trouble and maybe they can help you plan other details.

In addition I would try to take the shots during a practice match because I have a feeling that the drone’s Wi-Fi network could interfere with field connection.


And many do not.


This is the kind of quality off season turd posting I come to this site for.


I mean… Cable cams do exist and its what the NFL uses. You could put a line across over the field ensuring it can never fall down on a person.

Better ones with a gimbal on the bottom and remote controllable exist. I’ve seen a team make their own with a Neo + Spark Max driven over PWM controlled from an RC controller. This worked really really well, but i can’t remember what team it was or what event it was at. Definitely a FIM team at a FIM event in the metro Detroit area.


The risk of it dropping out of the sky would turn me off. If I was running an event I might let it happen for an exhibition match, as long as it looked reasonably safe. Worst case, the drone falls on the field and there needs to be a field fault.


It seems Gavin holds us (internet strangers) in excessively high regard or holds you (a bonafide real human) in excessively low regard.

In either case, Gavin needs a talkin to.


I was at an offseason event last year, not sure which one, where they had a drone recording footage. They had the area underneath it roped off, so that if it fell, it wouldn’t hit anyone. Never looked to see where the footage was posted, and as I said I don’t remember which event it was to check now.


I love the idea and I also can’t wait for a robot to punt a football into it.


The single biggest reason: SAFETY.

First person to get hit by a drone has first right to the drone operator’s (and event staff’s/hosts) pound of flesh.

There are guidelines for drone operators, if your friend would do some research. These may include local ordinances, venue restrictions, and/or federal laws.


in the history of the NFL using “SkyCam” the wire running the camera has supposedly been hit twice. It’s been in operation since the 80s. Both times it “interfered” with a pass being thrown. I’m sure its possible, but unless we have a game like Steam powered with the high goal hoppers or the cargo ball high goal, most times teams aren’t shooting directly up into the air.

Best practice would be to run it at the same height as the projector screens or the displays put up by event staff. How often does an object launched from a robot hit those? At worlds the screens are directly overhead of the field.


Event organizers usually are renting the space. Have the event organizers ask the venue owners if it is allowed. I asked my school if it was OK to have a drone indoors for an off-season and they said no. Pretty sure they didn’t want a lawsuit on their hands if something went wrong.


This is exactly what I was thinking. Having a drone fall from the sky is too big of a risk and I would be pissed if someone, even at an offseason event, had their drone fall on/in our bot or god forbid one of my students.

But this accomplishes the same view without risking the safety of the people attending and the robots themselves.


I would love to have an overhead view of the field (I think it would have helped a lot with following this year’s game), but I don’t think a drone is the right technology choice. Noisy and distracting, requires a lot of maintenance (e.g. changing batteries), requires significant wireless bandwidth, potential interference with game or damage to self and others.



I can never really tell with him, although more opinions are most often better.

The Offseason would be Kettering Kickoff in September. (As far as I’m aware, there hasn’t been any announcement yet, but we’ve gone to it the last two off-seasons.) As such the event organizers and venue owners are the same people. (Or at least closely affiliated)