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Red Bull’s Insane Electric FPV Drone Is So Much Faster Than A Model S Plaid

It’s astonishing how a humble Thai energy drink from the 1970s, originally intended as refreshment for laborers, has metamorphosed into a rambunctious Austrian empire by the name of Red Bull. Among its numerous subsidiaries, Red Bull Motorsports is arguably the most buoyant. This division not only owns and sponsors several motorsport and adventure sports teams but also takes up off-beat passion projects, like building the world’s fastest first-person view (FPV) drone.

Red Bull recently released a video of a drone keeping up with Max Verstappen’s 2024 F1 challenger around Silverstone. The footage captured by the drone’s camera is mesmerizing, unlike anything we’ve seen from modern cameras and broadcast equipment. It kept up with the F1 car around Silverstone in soaking-wet conditions, hitting speeds of over 150 miles per hour. With a crystal clear eagle’s eye view of the F1 car, the cinematic footage looks like it’s out of a video game. But it’s not, it’s very much real.

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The Tesla Model S Plaid is a performance benchmark.

The 1,040 hp tri-motor Tesla Model S Plaid was among the earliest electric performance sedans. It was the fastest-accelerating production car until the Rimac Nevera came out. Recently, it was even spotted in Maranello, where it was possibly benchmarked against an upcoming Ferrari.

The drone itself wasn’t made by Red Bull. Dutch Drone Gods, a small group of drone specialists from the Netherlands, have built it. However, engineers at Red Bull Advanced Technologies in Milton Keynes, who are also responsible for Max Verstappen’s F1 car, are said to have fine-tuned it. “We can use the aerodynamics side of the business to make it go faster, [make] some material changes and the composite design side can take the weight out,” Rob Gray, the technical director of RBAT, said in the Red Bull video.

These efforts culminated in what is now claimed to be the world’s fastest FPV drone. Before it raced the Red Bull F1 car around Silverstone, it also battled against the 1,050 horsepower Tesla Model S Plaid, with Carwow’s Matt Watson behind the wheel. The drone made the Tesla appear—and I hate sounding cringe—rather slow. The Model S Plaid is no ordinary EV; it’s one of the fastest-performance sedans available, and it’s not easily outperformed. It even gave the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport a run for its money in a drag race.

The Model S Plaid has three electric motors sending a combined 1,047 pound-foot of torque to all four wheels. Torque vectoring ensures precise distribution of torque to minimize wheel slip and maximize grip. But of course, it’s no match for the 985-gram drone which has a 5 hp motor. That gives it a power-to-weight ratio of over 5,000 hp per ton, compared to the Plaid’s 464 hp/ton. Absurd numbers. And a silly comparison. But the footage is undeniably cool.

 

“We did a lot of 3D printing, for both prototyping and the final product as well. And there’s some carbon CNC stuff that we did as well ourselves, too,” Ralph Hogenbirk, the owner of Dutch Drone Gods said in an interview with Red Bull. The result is a top speed of 217 mph. The acceleration from 62-124 mph takes only two seconds. And it’s capable of generating 6Gs at max load. For perspective, most F1 cars accelerate to 60 mph in about 2.6 seconds.

Remarkably, it can navigate racetracks at such high speeds, keep up with F1 cars, and still capture stable footage. It can achieve this in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second or 5K resolution at 30 frames per second. It appears that the combination of battery power, electric motors, slippery surfaces, and lightweight materials isn’t just transforming the automotive world but also unlocking a new level of performance for drones and cameras.

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