The world’s first official Drone Racing League launched a couple of weeks ago in New York City, and it’s hitting the ground flying! With six events around the world in 2016. Competitive drone racing has been likened to Star Wars pod racing and everyone’s favorite speed games, but the DRL takes the sport to a whole new level. Pilots race regulation drones in a series of heats, reaching speeds of up to 80 miles per hour. And DRL courses are plotted out in three dimensions, so pilots will have to navigate their drones around obstacles, tight turns, and narrow passageways on their road to victory.
Each drone pilot in the DRL wears goggles that display a live video feed from their drone as it speeds around the track. League officials have sanctioned the official vehicle for competition, called the DRL Racer 2. It’s equipped with a standard-definition camera for the pilot’s video feed, and HD cameras that will help DRL producers cut together compelling video feeds for playback and promotional purposes. And colored LED lights on the body of the DRL Racer 2 help boost visibility when the drones are racing around league courses at top speeds.
The rapid rise of drone racing is already showing that this will be a big money sport. In 2015, Chad Nowak from Brisbane, Australia, was crowned the first world champion of drone racing at the first US National Drone Racing Championships.
His first prize was A$15,000 and he had only been drone racer for a year. He has now moved to the US to be closer to the center of the big prize money drone racing scene. As the sport grows, it’s inevitable that more professional leagues will form, sponsorship will be attracted, and there will be regional, national & worldwide championships.
Like modern Formula 1 racing, where the viewer at home can see a live video stream from the cars, DRL says that it will give viewers a customizable view from the drones. Oh hell yeah, bring that on!