CRESTVIEW — In the Game of Drones, only one unmanned aerial vehicle — or UAV — will come out the winner. And the battle for the air is coming next month to Crestview.
Davidson Middle School will host a “Drone-a-Polooza” May 28, and battling UAVs will be a highlight.
“This will be the first of its kind in our area,” DMS robotics teacher Tim Sexton said. “I’m always thinking outside the box. My kids think it’s cool. They can’t wait to come and see and participate.”
Battling drones — “Kind of like Battlebots in the air,” Sexton said — is just a part of the event.
Local technology companies will showcase their services and products to educators, students, each other and technology geeks of all stripes, Sexton said.
It’s also an opportunity for the public to see firsthand drone and robotics demonstrations and to learn how to build and fly drones, how the government regulates and licenses drone use, and see how 3D printing integrates with the rapidly evolving drone technology.
‘DRONES ARE EVERYWHERE’
“The whole thing is to get people interested in having a new technology goal,” Advanced Aerial Operations LLC owner and pilot Mario Werth said.
Werth and his company are already familiar as advisers to Sexton’s classes.
“Drones are everywhere and the rules are still being written,” Werth said. “We’re going to need new engineers. New stuff comes out every day. In the entire spirit of (Okaloosa County technology proponent) Dr. Paul Hsu, we want to get it growing in North Okaloosa.”
Werth is arranging for flying equipment of several sizes to be on hand, including a helicopter and possibly a flying boat.
“The flying boat we will have to see, but the helicopter is definitely going to be there,” Werth said.
‘FLY, CRASH AND REBUILD’
Technology company involvement in the first of what Sexton and Werth hope will be an annual exposition is integral to its success, both educators said, and will show Davidson students and the public career opportunities in technology fields.
“We are trying to get definitely the industries involved,” Werth said. “This is what we want to get the kids interested in.”
“I’m hoping businesses want to show off to potential customers and talk to the kids and public about what their needs might be as far as potential employees,” Sexton said. “It’s also a way to get them in touch with each other.”
Booth space rental and a small, as yet to be determined admission fee will benefit Sexton’s classes’ equipment expenses and participation in local and regional robotics competitions, he said.
After morning presentations on drone technology, attendees will get to see or participate in the Game of Drones and a drone aerial obstacle race.
“People who do drones know about that kind of competition and I’m trying to bring it to Crestview,” Sexton said. “They put their drones together and know they could be chopped up or destroyed.”
While fun, the games also have a serious educational value, Werth said.
“It’s all in the spirit of fly, crash and rebuild,” he said. “These days, students don’t have critical thinking anymore. Hopefully his event will get people thinking. Afterwards they will think, ‘OK, I crashed. How did it happen? How can I prevent that the next time.’”