Most frequent questions and answers
Drone Combat is a drone sports entertainment company, set up in 2016 to invent and develop new ways to play with drones. While aerial photography is great, it’s generally a pretty lonely pastime; and Drone Racing is fantastic, but it can take a lot of time to get to compete…
Drone Combat aims to provide low-cost, easy access to drone activities and education, making new opportunities for competition and play.
In co-ordination with team-mates, Flightball pilots steer their drones in a bid to drive a floating ball into contact with the opposition’s back net. This can involve a concerted strategy to block or attack an opponent drone, an all out pursuit of the ball or anything in between. Keeping your drone airborne and usefully deployed is the key to victory.
Four pilots on each team make an official match, but this can be varied to suit circumstances – size of arena, availability of pilots etc. For competition matches teams can make use of Drone Masters, who, suitably protected, are inside the arena and make sure that any downed and upended craft are in a position to be quickly airborne again. Drone Masters can, of course, themselves become “objects of interest” for the opposing team.
We’re deliberately keeping rules to a minimum. Teams begin play from set positions and the game starts with the introduction of the ball at the centre of the arena. Batteries will be fully charged, and pilots briefed with control and safety requirements. Beyond that, anything goes in pursuit of coming out ahead, although immediately after scoring, the attacking team has to back off for a moment (see below). Opposition drones are no less a target than the ball, and if a drone gets knocked out of the sky, there’s no injury time!
The opposing ends of the arena have LED lit areas at their centres. Each team must aim to bring the ball into contact with their opponent’s lit wall to score. Play is continuous, but once a goal has been scored, the defending team gets to clear the ball with a ‘goal kick’.
At the moment it’s simply one point per goal. We may see what happens when a smaller ‘bullseye’ is introduced into the LED panel, but it’s a fast game, so a complicated scoring mechanism is likely to get in the way.
For now you need ours. We’ve spent a couple of years trying all sorts of drones and cages, from fast-twitch racing drones with molded polythene shells to GPS locked monsters braced into metal mesh cages. In the end we came up with our current production model, a fast but fairly forgiving drone built into a carbon fibre cage held together with specially designed 3d printed joints. Once we’re happy we’ve got something that works well for everyone, we’ll be publishing the design specs and the 3d files, and inviting open-source input to an evolving competition drone. We’ll also sell them, in kit or assembled form. And that’s just the beginning….
To play at Insomnia 63 it costs nothing. The drones aren’t for sale at Insomnia, but, as above, we plan to have them on the market very soon afterwards. We’re aiming for an eventual target price of around £300.
At Insomnia 63! In the next few months we’ll be taking Flightball on the road to other events, inviting pilots and teams that we recruit along the way. Then we’ll be making Flightball kits available (nets, balls etc.) so that teams can set up their own clubs, play matches and enter tournaments.
We think even if you’ve never flown a drone, it’s pretty easy to pick up the basics. Generally, anyone familiar with joystick gaming tends not to have a problem! At the start of each match we’ll take the time to do a basic familiarisation with the drone, and while practice will improve skill levels, we think everyone will have some fun with it.
There are three ways to play at Insomnia 63
- Send us a message that tells us (or better shows us!) why you’d make a great pilot and we’ll see what we can do to book you in to a scratch team.
- Get a team together – the more developed with a name, strip etc. the better – and let us know you’re good and when you’re coming.
- Just turn up at the stand – we’ll have as many slots as we can for people on the day… BUT there are a lot of people at the event, and we can only do so much before we all run out of batteries!
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Flightball’s launch at Insomnia 63 is the beginning of the road leading to the Flightball Championship of 2019. We’re interested in recruiting ready-made teams as well as assembling them during Insomnia and afterwards. So get in touch with us here or at the event and we’ll start making plans….
They go at a top speed of about 25mph – which means they can get from one end of the arena to the other in 2 seconds!
The chances are your drone will be knocked out of the sky. That’s why we have the Drone Masters at hand to get you airborne again as quickly as possible. The drone cages are really well made and will protect it from most (but of course not all) damage. If your drone can’t be righted in the arena, we have spares ready to go, and a dedicated technical team on site to make repairs and keep the fleet in flying order.