Cutting edge innovations continue to emerge from the multi-rotor industry at a hectic pace. Frankly, it's sometimes difficult to keep track of all the new stuff. A few things are bound to get lost in the noise from time to time. But the upcoming Drone Racer by Kyosho ($220) really caught my attention. My interest has nothing to do with the fact that this quad looks like a race car. I'm captivated by the notion that you drive it like a race car. Rather than the standard 2-joystick transmitter that is typically used for airborne models, this multi-rotor takes its commands from a pistol-grip transmitter like you would find at an RC racetrack. You're probably wondering how that is even possible. Keep reading and I'll explain!
Under The Hood
Kyosho provided a pre-production unit of the Drone Racer for me to evaluate. It is planned for release in late November and will be available in two body styles. The G-Zero model, which I received, is obviously inspired by Formula One race cars. The Zephyr version channels an angular, flat-paneled Batmobile.
The Drone Racer is not a toy-grade novelty item. It is made of legit hobby-quality stuff. But it isn't meant to trade paint with traditional high-powered racing quads. Despite the similarity in name, they are totally different beasts. If there is such a thing as a beginner-friendly airborne racing basher, the Drone Racer is it. It is at home zipping around over your driveway or competing with friends on an impromptu parking lot race course.
This ship reminds me of many of the beginner-oriented quads that I have flown. Its plastic frame measures 233mm between diagonal rotor shafts. Each 5"-diameter (127mm) prop is driven by a tiny brushed motor via a single-stage gearbox. Power comes from a 1-cell, 1000mAh LiPo battery.
No assembly is required, but you will likely be turning screws at some point to make tuning adjustments. For instance, you can set the forward tilt of the rotors to 0 (default), 10, or 20-degrees. The 10 and 20-degree options provide faster forward speeds. Making the change requires swapping out plastic mounts for the frame arms. It's a quick process involving just 8 screws.
All of the onboard electronics are configured as well. Once again, there are a few tuning options. You can choose between Easy and Active flight modes. Obviously, the Active mode offers more aggressive maneuvering. There is also an option to configure specific settings via a Windows or Android utility. A micro-USB cable is included to bridge the physical connection between the quad and your PC. The program, however, is not complete as I write this. So I was not able to utilize that feature during my testing.