Bristol hosts MAAXX – The Worlds First Autonomous Drone Race

Bristol hosts MAAXX – The Worlds First Autonomous Drone Race

Drone enthusiasts are set to descend on the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) as it hosts an indoor drone air race with a twist.

While competing drones can be piloted from a ground station, they must be fully automatic! In a world-first MAAXX (Micro Aero Autonomous Extremes) will be a competition not about human piloting skills; but about building machines and systems that can operate without human intervention.

The University of West of England and High Tech Bristol and Bath will be collaborating on hosting the MAAXX event at the UWE Exhibition and Conference Centre on 11/12th February 2017.

MAAXX explain that “fully autonomous racing is challenging, that’s why we’re doing it” and hope that the competition will allow anyone to “really pit [their] ingenuity against some of the largest aerospace companies and best Universities”.

MAAXX track envelope
The MAAXX course is simple enough that you could even build a test circuit at home as you learn to develop your own drone.

Drone technology has undergone a boom over the last five years – with both drones and electronics plummeting in price and software to control or develop them usually is free.

About Micro Aero Autonomous Extremes Europe

The MAAXX Course

  • Banners and nets are placed at altitude above 1.5 meters at regular intervals along the course (to keep things safe, low and close).
  • Course marking: red line, green line, wall-mounted triangles at ends.
  • The track is 2 metres wide.
  • There are put-in and exit lanes to allow the drones to enter and exit the race at any time.
  • The course is a long oval; the straights are 25 metres long and 2 metres apart.

MAAXX Awards

  • Speed prize – the fastest 10 consecutive laps of the course. If no-one makes 10 consecutive laps, the prize goes to the fastest 5 consecutive laps.
  • Endurance prize – greatest total number of laps achieved during the entire competition.
  • Kudos prize – the most impressive tech or trick, as voted by the other competitors


  • Max vehicle take-off weight of 3 kg.
  • Max vehicle size of 1 metre in any dimension.
  • No combustion engine powered vehicles are permitted.
  • No human intervention is permitted once the competitor is on the course. Control from any ground-station equipment via wireless link is permitted.
  • Any wireless communications methods are permitted (e.g. Wifi, Bluetooth, XBee, 2.4GHz).
  • Unlimited attempts are permitted, at any time during the competition. Competitors may fly whenever a flying slot becomes available. A slot is defined as no less than 2 meters from the nearest competitor on entering the course.
  • There is no limit on the vehicle configuration: fixed-wing, rotary, or hybrids are all permitted.
  • Deliberate or excessive bumping and ramming is discouraged. What is deliberate or excessive? You will know it, the judges will know it, and then they will red-flag you.
  • The MAAXX organisers explained that really “the basic rule is please, don’t be an idiot”.

Even if you’re not an interested in participating there will be plenty of thrills and spills for spectators – registration is now open – and the even will take place on 11/12th February 2017 at the UWE Exhibition and Conference Centre.

Details for the competition are currently provisional. If you want to get invovled in the vent or have any suggestions get involved on the MAAXX forum.

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