September was a month of excitement and activity for Drona Aviation as well as Drone Enthusiasts in Mumbai. Three long months of efforts finally came to fruition on the 2nd of September when PRL (Pluto Racing League) finally took off! The idea was pretty simple; Organize India’s first Nano-Drone Racing Competition! Easier said than done. Phone calls, meetings, recces, ideation, brainstorming, social media campaigns and traveling ensued. Oof! So much to do, so little time!
We figured that India’s dronespace has a lot of exploration to do! We began wondering how we can make an impact with Pluto. What came to our minds next was PRL. What better way to indulge the crowd in some Drone action than Drone Racing? So we got to work, publicizing the event on our Social Media while setting it up in the background, conceptualising it and collaborating with different partners.
Our first collaboration was with ISDI (Indian School of Design & Innovation). They helped us a lot in organising this event, giving us a venue good enough for Drone Racing and helping us set it up for the main event. Next, we struck a deal with Essel World. Naturally, a competition needs to provide good enough incentive to participate in it. Essel World helped us in this regard by providing passes for the Quarter-Finalists. Of course, a competition’s winners are gonna get Trophies. These trophies were sponsored by RaceWorks. And finally, the photography and videography for the event was covered by our favourite, Crazy Heads Studios!
We carefully planed the structure of the tournament in such a way that there would be sufficient time to cover training, trials as well as eliminations in a schedule that spanned across two weekends. (2nd, 3rd and 9th, 10th of September). On the 2nd and 3rd of September, we would be teaching the participants how to fly Pluto and give them time for a few practice sessions, and then move on to trials. The best pilots from the trials would go on to participate in the main tournament, which was to take place during the next weekend (9th and 10th September).
Participants were allowed to choose any one day of 2nd or 3rd September during which they would attend and get a chance to train and fly Pluto through a basic arena and record the number of laps they complete. On these two days, we observed 50 participants come and try their hand at flying Pluto. 32 of these were selected for the tournament based on the maximum number of laps they completed.
9th of September, the stage was set for the main event. The Tournament. By way of elimination, the number of participants kept reducing from 32 to 16, from 16 to 8 and then finally, from 8 to 4. Each stage got tougher and circumstances got more and more complicated. Finally, our four best pilots, Akshaj Raut, Tanishq Hirani, Aditya Shirsat and Nimish Pawaskar went on to become the finalists!
The finale was an exciting, chaotic race where everyone had to pay attention to their own drone in an arena where 4 Plutos were flying around. Akshaj Raut turned out to be the winner, with Tanishq Hirani following right behind him. Aditya Shirsat’s Pluto then stumbled across the finish line and then Nimish Pawaskar’s Pluto showed great fighting spirit to complete the race in 4th position.
The event saw plenty of media coverage with Newspapers like Hindustan Times, Mid-Day and Maharashtra Times covering it in their printed editions while ABP Maajha and TV9 also interviewed a few of the organizers and published them in Video on their Channels.
All in all, the event was a great success and managed to achieve what it intended to accomplish. We got active participation and enthusiasm from the participants and crowd and people began to show more interest in drones and Pluto as well! We thank everyone who was a part of PRL for helping us make it so big and hope to see you participate in future Drona Aviation events!
Signing off for now,