Drone arena taking flight

Published 11:30am 11 November 2021

Drone arena taking flight
Words by Jodie Powell

A unique drone games arena and training centre opens at Lawnton this weekend.

The brainchild of aircraft engineer Darren Stone, Drone-Games is billed as the first of its kind in the world.

Drone-Games was originally a mobile business, visiting schools and other venues with pop-up nets to contain the drones, but Darren was determined to create a more permanent base.

It had its major launch at Redcliffe Kitefest, where more than 700 people immersed themselves in drone activations on day one.

His introduction to drones came when clients of his asset management business, Asset Excellence, began asking if he could conduct inspections of assets in complicated and restricted with drones.

He saw the potential and also discovered there were many safety aspects to flying drones – even for amateurs.

Darren says while the games are fun, the venue is also a great way to teach people about flying drones safely.

“There’s a lot of safety issues with drones, but unless learning about it is fun, you don’t really care,” he says.

“This is engaging people in a fun way, but also showing them the safety component.”

Plenty of challenges

Drone arena taking flight

The Lawnton facility is home to the Junk Yard, a challenging obstacle course designed to hone pilots’ precision flying skills as they navigate through, and the Drone Way, which is a raceway through which drones fly while performing manoeuvres.

The drones are fitted with propeller guards so they can’t get snagged in each arena’s netting cage.

Darren says Drone-Games will initially have three clubs – and engineering/technology club, a racing club and a games club – and will have BYO-drone sessions on Wednesday and Sunday nights.

“Over time we’ll bring in different themes,” he says.

Drone-Games is working with educator and innovator Dr Irena Yashin-Shaw, who is developing a curriculum for corporate training incorporating drones, which will take place in a specially designed meeting space.

“It will be great for building teams – they will be given a problem to solve, and then fly the drones to see if their solution works – then they can come back in and refine it,” Darren says.

He wants the arena to be all-inclusive and has installed accessible toilets to allow people with mobility issues to visit.

“When we were at Kitefest we noticed there were so many people with disabilities and we saw the smiles on their faces with the drones,” he says.

“Our facilities cater for people with disabilities – they can’t get hurt and if the drones crash it doesn’t matter.”

Drone-Games is at Unit 21, 31 Paisley Drive, Lawnton. The grand opening is Saturday 13 November, 10am-8pm.

Find out more here.

Read more local news here.

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