- [Jordan] There's a moment that you find a flow state.
The only thing that is happening in your mind is exactly now and in that moment.
- [Joe] Humans have always dreamed of flying.
Leonardo da Vinci famously said that a bird was an instrument working according to mathematical law.
Meaning if we could figure out that math, humans could fly too.
So in the 500+ years between this and this, have we realized that dream?
[upbeat music] Jordan Temkin knows the feeling of personal flight.
- [Jordan] The first time I put the goggles on, I got to have this absolute freedom that I had never experienced before.
- [Joe] Jordan who goes by, Jet, professionally, is a two-time world champion in the drone racing league.
He flies FPV or first person view quad-copter drones.
FPV pilots fly their drones based on information they receive from the drones onboard camera which is translated to their goggles through shortwave radio signals.
So they essentially operate as if they themselves are on board their rigs.
Tell me, you don't feel like you're also along for this ride?
And equally as heart pounding and adrenaline filled, physics.
Anything that flies is subject to the four forces of flight.
Those forces are weight, lift, drag and thrust.
Weight is the force pulling an object down to earth on account of gravity.
And it's the main thing a flying object has to overcome.
Lift is another force of flight that offsets gravity and hold something in the air.
A plane gets a lift from its wings while a drone gets a lift from its rotors, which are really just wings that spin.
The third force is drag.
Drag is the friction created by air pressure.
Finally, thrust is the force that pushes an object through the air.
In a plane propellers or jet turbines push the aircraft forward.
But in the case of a drone, that thrust comes from the four rotors pushing the air downwards.
So how does Jordan translate those four forces into this?
Pilots increase or decrease power to one or more of the drones forward onboard motors with their controller forcing movement of the drone.
- [Jordan] The propeller is the way that we interact with the air.
- [Joe] Two propellors spin clockwise and two spin counter-clockwise.
The arrangement makes it possible to control the drones, angular, momentum and torque which means pilots can control their movements.
- [Jordan] Flying a drone involves controlling four separate axes.
First, you have the throttle, that's your Z axis.
Then you have pitch which is your forward and back roll which is rotating to the right or left and then yaw.
If you turn right in your car, that's yawing.
- [Joe] That process of controlling the orientation of the drone, it's called attitude control.
This guy is definitely serving some attitude, but we digress.
- [Jordan] Flying the drone, removing our thrust vector to where we wanna go.
Let's say you wanna fly forwards with your drone.
You first pitch the nose down and then you throttle up.
What that's done is moved the thrust vector to point forwards so that now you're flying forwards.
- [Joe] What forces of flight are controlling this action?
Well, the forward momentum is being met by the opposing force of drag - [Jordan] To do a back flip, I would give the drone a little bit of thrust.
To give it an upwards momentum, lower the throttle, pitch back, and then I would catch it like throttling up on the downwards trajectory.
When you're first learning how to fly a drone, it's really hard to coordinate everything because you're thinking about your hands, you're thinking about the controls but really once you get the hang of it, you don't think about your hands anymore.
And it kind of just happens.
- [Joe] The weight and shape of a drone are two major factors in determining how efficiently it can fly.
A heavier machine creates more drag and is pulled down harder by gravity which in turn requires more power to run.
Jordan's drones are made from carbon fiber because it's highly rigid and durable, but also lightweight.
He uses lithium polymer or Lipo batteries.
Lipo batteries have a high energy density, but a low weight and they're very robust.
For comparison, your cell phone probably runs on a lithium ion battery which is made to last all day, but can combust under certain circumstances.
Not an ideal characteristic when landing, sometimes looks like this [propellers throttling] - Jordan] The more throttle you use, the more battery it uses up.
If you're doing a lot of high-speed powerful maneuvers like we do when we're racing, the battery lasts very short amount of time.
- [Joe] When racing, Jordan's batteries last only about two minutes which brings us to speed.
The drones that Jordan flies can get up to 90 miles per hour in under a second.
Compare that to a professional race car driver who goes from zero to 60 in three seconds.
Speed is one of the considerations Jordan takes into account when he builds drones in his Seattle workshop.
- [Jordan] When I'm designing a drone, I'm thinking about weight, power and thrust, durability, visibility, radio frequencies, weatherproofing, the view coming from the FPV camera and the GoPro.
It's a big puzzle.
- [Joe] Jordan can't fly his drones at drone racing league events.
The DRL supplies competitors with a regulated drone so they can be judged purely on performance and not on their equipment.
- [Jordan] Unlike other motor sports where it's a flat track and you're going left and right, we're going left right up, down sideways and around.
It's about speed, reaction, time keeping momentum and line work.
- [Joe] The drone racing league is the most high profile FPV league today.
And it attracts a pretty big audience online and IRL.
More than a hundred million people have tuned into their events.
- [Jordan] Every day we're just pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a drone racing pilot.
- [Joe] And for Jordan, it's more than just a career.
FPV shifted his entire worldview.
- [Jordan] You start looking at the world in a different way.
You're 110% focused in exactly what's happening.
Your body doesn't matter.
It's this Zen moment where the only thing happening is what you're doing.
- [Joe] So, maybe we have to wait a bit longer for scientists to make personal flight a reality, but there's no disputing the fact that FPV has provided our consciousness, the power to soar.
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