Course Status System
In addition to the briefings, you will also need a way to communicate with your team (the event staff) before, during, and after the event, as well as with any new people on the event site. One of the greatest risks at a drone racing event is the racing drones. Therefore, it is critical to have a communication method which guarantees that no one is on or near the race course when the drones are racing. Moreover, there will be a lot of different people on the event site during race day and you must have a method to ensure that everyone - from Spectators, to Food & Beverage, to Pilots - knows when racing is taking place and stays in a safe location, removed from the race course.
While keeping the race course void of people at all times, it's not practical when crashed drones need to be retrieved by Drone Handlers. (Note: There is an example of how this works at the bottom of the page).
There should be 3 course statuses during a drone racing event:
1. Open Course: There are no drones flying, all drones are powered off and controllers are down. Staff members may walk freely on the race course. Although drone-related risks are minimized in this state, all other normal safety protocols are to be strictly observed.
2. Restricted Course: There are no drones flying, all drones are powered off and controllers are down. If given explicit permission by the Race Director, authorized personnel may be on the race course.
3. Closed Course: When a drone is airborne or spun up, the race course must be closed. No one is allowed on the race course during this time. When a race ends and pilots put down their controllers, the drone manager should signal, “Controllers Down” to the Race Director.
There are four ways you can communicate these different statuses; whichever way you choose, it is critical that system is communicated to everyone on the event site during their briefing:
- Different colored lights
- Different colored flags
- Different Sounds
Here's an example:
Let’s say you’re using a flag system to convey the different course states. A green flag means Open Course, a yellow flag means Restricted Course, and a red flag means Closed Course.
The Race Director (who is in a good location) waves the red flag signaling the course is now closed. This should also signal everyone on the event site that the course is closed and that, should they see anyone on the race course, they must notify a staff member immediately. The Area Managers - for example, the Spectator Manager or the Food and Beverage Manager - should tell the people in their area that the course is now closed and no one may walk on or near the course. Everyone watches the race. The race ends. The Drone Manager tells the Race Director that controllers are down. Race Director now waves the yellow flag, signaling a Restricted Course, and allows the Drone Handlers on the course to collect any fallen drones.
When racing had concluded for the entire day, controllers are down, and drones are powered off, the Race Director should wave the green flag, signaling that the course is now open, and people are free to move about.