It sounded like an army of angry bees as several homemade unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly known as drones, swarmed throughout a soccer dome at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton in a series of high flying competitions.  

The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) UNB club hosted a number of challenges, from drag racing to heavy lifting, for builders to test their creations.

"It's fun! A lot of fun," said pilot Jacob Smith, an engineering student. "There's not that many really fun things in engineering. It's tough but this is one of the more fun things. So it's good to have."  


More than 50 builders and spectators took in the UAV challenges that ranged from racing, lifting and hang-time within the BMO soccer dome on campus. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Smith's UAV took home the title for flying duration, spending more than 14 minutes suspended in flight within the BMO soccer dome.  

"I've got a pretty serious battery, it's pretty big," said Smith. "It makes it a bit slower, but for a challenge like this, it gives us an advantage." 

Despite the event being hosted inside away from the winter elements, a series of crashes, and on occasion, out-of-control erratic flights kept the audience of more than 50 spectators entertained.  

Homemade UAVs

Several engineering students entered their flying machines at the first ever UAV skills competition, many making adjustments and rebuilding on the fly. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Nicky Ward, co-president of the UAV club, spent much of his day getting the small, flying machines set up and in place for each event. 

"It's been a bit crazy, but it's our first time," said Ward.  

Wards says as industry develops and uses UAV technology more often, from use in agriculture to home deliveries, students that can fly and build the machines will be in high demand. 

"I think it's a good way for people to have hands-on experience in these things," said Ward. "Some of them – depending on their groups projects don't get to touch these things, so it's a good way to get the experience and have fun at the same time." 

The flight challenges event was the first for UAV pilots in Fredericton. Organizers are hoping to make it an annual event.