What happens when you combine the thrill of Star Wars pod racing with the real-world adrenaline of Formula 1?
Imagine having to immerse yourself in your drone’s point of view, flying while you race at a speed of over a hundred miles per hour through obstacles, minus getting a real-life injury if ever you crash.
This is what drone racing is all about. Here’s everything you need to know about the sport.
Drone Racing: The Ultimate Tech/Sport Crossover
The “pilots” in this race are made to wear a head-mounted display that makes it feel as if the person controlling the drone is right on board. Racing settings vary from the traditional wide-open field to the enclosed yet obstacle-ridden course. Racers dodge and duck a number of obstacles, which come in many shapes and sizes, like gates, towers, ladders, and hoops.
Racing using drones started out among Australian enthusiasts who organized these races in the woods or in abandoned buildings around Brisbane and Melbourne six years ago. Since then and rather quickly, the sport garnered online popularity through videos of more than a million views and has taken the international stage with prizes amounting up to $250,000. British broadcaster Sky invested $1 million to launch the Drone Racing League in 2016, and international races from the league are now being broadcast in various sports channels—ESPN, Sky Sports, ProSiebenSat.1, FOX Sports Asia, Groupe AB, OSN, and Disney XD. Just recently, the Drone Racing League finished its third season, featuring seven races in France, Germany, and Nevada, and has launched the first-ever Artificial Intelligence Robotic Racing Circuit for 2019.
However, although the sport has grown in popularity in just six years, it still remains underground, and there are still very few pilots who are able to support themselves competing in this sport. Because of the limited racing locations around the world since the hobby is relatively new, teens have organized drone racing camps and clubs in school. Seventeen-year-olds Eamon Kriz and Connor Middleton, for example, approached the Noosa Council and some local businesses to secure sponsorship and prizes and held their first drone racing camp just last month. Circleville High School in Ohio, on the other hand, has started a drone racing club and a racing team with plans to compete this spring.
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