Cycle Times

Cycle Times are the key to a smooth running event.  When people come to a drone race they want to see drones racing, or be drones racing.  No one comes to watch you run the event.  It’s important to keep a few things in mind when designing your event, but the “why” comes down to Cycle Times.

Assuming you are running a Most Laps, 2 Minute + Finish your lap format, a well run event will have an average cycle time of 6 minutes.


  • 2 minute most laps format.
  • 20 second fastest lap (pro level pilot)
  • Course designed to fit football field (100ft wide, 300feet long max)
  • 50ft pilot safety setback
  • Average walking speed 4.5ft/s. Rounding to 5 for easier musing.

Actual Race = 155 seconds

  • 10 second countdown (goggles down/thumbs up… confirm… less than 5… horn!)
  • 120 seconds race
  • 20 seconds finish race
  • 5 seconds announce it’s safe to retrieve/stage.

Pilot Setup = 40 seconds

  • 100ft walking, this is 50ft to stage craft, 50ft back to pilot area (20 seconds)
  • 10 seconds plug in/exit pit mode/verify video/sacrifice chicken/start gopro
  • 10 seconds goggles down/thumbs up/transmitter ready

Retrieval = 20-170 seconds

  • walking to retrieve quad and back

Retrieval and Pilot Setup run concurrently.

So in the end…

The fastest possible cycle times are 195 seconds (3:15), and the worst assuming nothing goes extra-wrong are 325 seconds (5:25)…

This definitely lends its self to the “taskmaster” approach of making pilots ready soon as as possible. Because a single treed or lost quad can delay everything significantly.

It also shows the importance of course design. If you are going to have a technical obstacle likely to cause crashes, put it close to the pilots. The far end of your course should be about how fast they can cover it, less risky components.

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