Ilya Korsa Korenev on piloting a drone and the sports of the future

Ilya Korenev is a student of the Belgorod Technical University named after Shukhov. He became a drone pilot not that long ago, but already confessed that the sky doesn’t let go, and the hobby grew into something bigger. Therefore, he decided to participate in the First student games in the format Games of Future in the discipline of modern unmanned double-event – real drone piloting and drone flight simulator. Ilya finished third in qualifications but in the main draw emotions got the better of him and prevented him from vying for a medal.

— Tell us, please, how your drone pilot career began? And what’s the hook?

— As a matter of fact, my career is very short, I’ve been flying only for two months: from zero and onto the current competitions. Drones have been attracting me for some time but in terms of their creation and writing codes for the drones. Аnd I made my pilot debut just recently. Courtesy of the contest ‘Kiberdrom’. So now I am here. 

— There were two stages in these competitions: a virtual and a real one, what’s the difference? And where do you feel more comfortable?

— As a matter of fact, any pilot feels more comfortable piloting a real drone, if only because the flight physics somehow makes themselves felt. It’s different from virtual physics, but it is not so terrifying to crash your drone in virtual reality and lose a few thousand rubles to restore it, so it’s fifty-fifty.

— How many drones did you crash?

— Unfortunately, today I crashed my first drone, but I think it will be all repaired quickly.

— How long did it take you to assemble your own drone? 

— It took me about half a month to assemble my first drone: from ordering spare parts from Moscow and onto the assembly.

— What’s the coolest thing in this professional community of those who are passionate about drones?

— One man said the right thing: ”After you got a feel for the sky once, you become addicted to it” and then you are hooked up. I know people who gave up the hobby but they would come back after some time simply because they need this drive, this adrenaline rush to feel the speed – as our drones can develop a speed up to 200 km/hour with the 6S battery, so that’s the hook.

— When drones appeared, quite naturally quite a few drone fans began to use drone for taking photos and shooting videos – how can you explain in layman terms how this sport is different from just piloting a drone?

Our sport is all about high speed, so it takes a good reaction and flexibility in grasping the piloting. Conventional drones fly in a stabilized mode, i.e. if the pilot releases the throttle stick, the stick of the pitch roll [tilt&turn right/left – author’s note], then the copter levels itself and freezes. In our case we pilot the drone in the mode ACRO – i.e. completely at the pilot discretion and the drone reacts exactly like the pilot wants. So probably it is the reaction speed which makes the difference between our sport and conventional drone piloting.

— Was it difficult to switch from piloting on a computer to real piloting of a drone?

— As a matter of fact, yes, it was; because unfortunately today I had some minor equipment glitches. But that’s my personal snafu. If you customize your drone – the very drone you have in reality, then it is rather easy to switch from virtual to real, because thanks to the VelociDrone the flight physics on a simulator matches the real flight physics by 99,9%, though you still feel the difference.

— The Games of Future will be held in 2024 – the unmanned double-event which you are testing today will be one of the disciplines. What qualities do you think one needs to have to become a champion or a top sportsman?

— In my opinion, you gotta be a hard worker, that’s the main quality a pilot must possess.

— How many hours a day do you need to spend on drones? It is really labor-consuming: first, you buy the spare part, then you assemble it all. Maybe you can share with us some special tricks which help to increase the speed of the drone and improve its accuracy?  

— No, I won’t. We don’t open our secrets (smiling). As a matter of fact, like I said, you gotta be diligent and work hard, otherwise you won’t achieve the right result.

— You gotta be smart?

— Yes.

— Physically fit?

— Sure.

— How useful is your passion in your day-to-day life?

— The reaction speed increases, and that’s kind of cool, actually. Before you would push a cup inadvertently and it would fall off the table and break to pieces. It’s not the case anymore, you almost feel like the Spider Man from Tik Tok. 

— It is written “Digital future” on your thee-shirt. Do you think the format of the Games of Future is really the sport of the future when physics and virtual reality will be combined, is it really so cool? 20 years from now all sports disciplines will be like that?

— As a matter of fact, I guess we are striving for it. And these student games are a good case in point. Great many sports disciplines are transferred to the virtual world. I don’t know, many say it’s bad, but I believe it’s good. Especially when everything is combined.