By Danial Dzulkifly
SHAH ALAM, Sept 8 — Enthusiasts and organisers of drone racing are eager to deepen their ties with federal, state and local agencies, setting their sights on propelling the sport into a premier Malaysian pastime.
Shafiq Shamsir, the chief strategy officer of Sports Technology Malaysia Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of the National Sports Institute, acknowledged the sport’s surging appeal among the Malaysian youth.
He noted that there has been an increase in participation among the public at every domestic drone racing tournament.
Yet, Shafiq said there is a need for clarity between drone racing and the commercial drone domain. The latter, he pointed out, is tightly regulated, requiring rigorous certifications.
“It’s essential to distinctly differentiate drone racing from commercial drone activities. Commercial drone operations demand pilots to be meticulously trained and certified, typically by bodies such as the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM).
“However, drones used for sporting activities, when operated safely in designated areas, might require a different regulatory approach.
“This is why we need to liaise more comprehensively with local authorities and government entities, ensuring the sport remains both accessible and safe,” he said at a press conference during the Selangor Aviation Show 2023, here, today.
Also [resent at the event was National Academy for Drone Sports Centre of Excellence (Aksadron) head of trainers Muhaimin Osman.
According to Muhaimin, Malaysia currently has an impressive pool of skilled drone racing pilots.
In view of this, he said there is a need for better cooperation with the authorities to ensure further development of the sport.
“The overwhelming enthusiasm and interest in the sport are palpable, especially when we conduct advocacy programmes in schools.
“Many school administrators eagerly enquire about our next visit. However, we often need to go through layers of approvals from various government agencies.
“That is why we want to work more closely with local authorities to better develop the talent of this emerging sport,’’ he said.
Muhaimin said while Malaysia currently boasts four professional drone racing teams, this pales in comparison to South Korea, which has about 2,000 teams — a testament to the nation’s dominance in the drone racing arena.