Drones Taking Flight for Inaugural 'Liberty Cup' Race This Weekend

The hum of racing drones will fill the air at Liberty Science Center. (Image credit: Liberty Science Center)

Editor's Note: Because of inclement weather, Liberty Science Center has moved the second day of the Liberty Cup to Wednesday (Aug. 3). 

A swarm of 100 drone pilots will race for glory this weekend at the first-ever Liberty Cup, a competition that will qualify the Northeast's best drone pilots for the U.S. National Drone Racing Championships.

As if pulled from a scene in a science-fiction movie, the drone pilots will wear so-called First Person View goggles, allowing them to see the oncoming twists and turns of the racetrack while they operate the drones via remote control on the ground below. In fact, The race pulled many participants into the world of technology, as the student pilots had to research and build their own drones, race officials said.

"First Person View (FPV) drone racing is a natural extension of STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] education, requiring a confluence of knowledge in the areas of computers, engineering, problem-solving and fine motor skills," Paul Hoffman, president and CEO of Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, New Jersey, where the race is being held, said in a statement.  [5 Surprising Ways Drones Could Be Used in the Future]

The races are open to the public (with the price of admission to the science center), and people can try on FPV goggles to get a drone's-eye view of the racetrack and see the impressive New York City skyline from across the Hudson River. Attendees can also test their drone-flying abilities in the center's indoor "Dronesium," a net-covered area where people can practice drone maneuvers. In addition, people can talk with drone builders and pilots in the Racer's Pit.

The competition will take place on Saturday and Sunday (July 30 and 31). On Saturday, 100 pilots will compete in time trials, with 24 advancing to the preliminaries on Sunday. In this second round, 24 pilots will compete for eight spots. The remaining pilots will compete in mixed events for the top awards — three solo pilots and one freestyle pilot, who will advance to the U.S. Drone Nationals, which will be held the following week on New York City's Governors Island.

The first U.S. Drone Nationals was held in 2015, and since then drones have continued to grow in popularity. Live Science will cover the event on Sunday, talking with drone builders and pilots to get the inside scoop on how to construct and operate the best flying machine.

The Liberty Cup is a partnership between the science center and Yeah Drones, a company that uses drones for aerial cinematography. Visit the Liberty Science Center to learn more.

Original article on Live Science.

Laura Geggel

Laura is the archaeology and Life's Little Mysteries editor at Live Science. She also reports on general science, including paleontology. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Scholastic, Popular Science and Spectrum, a site on autism research. She has won multiple awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association for her reporting at a weekly newspaper near Seattle. Laura holds a bachelor's degree in English literature and psychology from Washington University in St. Louis and a master's degree in science writing from NYU.