You thought that Formula One was the pinnacle of technological achievement for racing machines? Well think again: a new racing league is on the rise, and even the sky’s not the limit for drone racing!
Many people associate drones with hobbyists and producers of aerial footage for film. The truth is that drones are fast becoming one of the must-watch televised sports Drone racing has already established itself in the US and is quickly spreading globally.
The Drone Racing League appears in the UK on Sky Sports – who have invested $1m in the series. Points are awarded for speed as well as accuracy, as machines must travel through checkpoints around the course. The quadracopters can reach speeds of more than 80 miles per hour, and the courses resemble film sets to add excitement for viewers at home. The TV deal with Sky follows increased British interest in the sport the success of British Teenager Luke Bannister, who won $250,000 in a drone race in 2015.
Pilots control the drones remotely, viewing the course in a first person perspective from cameras mounted onto the machines. This similarity to the experience of computer gaming is making the sport increasingly popular amongst the young, who are increasingly left behind by traditional motorsports, which is dominated by sponsors targeting over-25s. Drone racing is also far more popular amongst females than traditional motor racing.
The series is now well established in the USA, and last year a national championship was held in Texas as well as a world championship which took place in October. This year the series leaves American soil for the first time for a truly international flavour: On 13th June, drone racing will arrive for the first time in the UK, with a race planned at Alexandra Palace during London’s Tech week. This season finale will see eight contestants battling to become 2017’s world champion.
Drone racing looks and feels like a future sport, and is another example of unmanned aerial vehicle being used for a positive reason. It involves both racing talent and technical skill, as the teams must develop and build their own machines.
As technology advances with lighter and more agile machines, it wouldn’t be a surprise if it became an Olympic sport one day. Before we know it, it could become as popular as international auto racing. For now, drone racing continues to attract a worldwide audience who are enthralled by the spills and thrills of these tiny, nimble machines navigating the exciting racetracks.