Start Your Engines: Drone Racing League Planning 6 Races Across US Next Year

23 November 2015, 8:48 am EST By Aaron Mamiit Tech Times
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Unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly referred to as drones, are filling in a variety of roles in society. Uses that have been found for drones include package shipments, surveillance and video capture.

One more use for drones is now being developed that will be less utilitarian and more on the entertainment side.

The Drone Racing League is currently being developed, wherein spectators can watch races through the footage being shot by cameras mounted on the drone racers. Drone racing will be a brand-new kind of spectator sport that will have fans watching as if they were sitting right in the cockpit of the drone, which can be done so through their TVs, computers, mobile devices and even virtual reality headsets.

Nick Horbaczewski, the CEO of the Drone Racing League, said that the focus for the league is on such channels and not on live events, as courses for drone races could be too complex with many parts hidden from plain sight. In addition, the speed and size of the drones could make it hard for live viewers to appreciate the races live.

However, this could change should drone races spike in popularity. There are six races being planned for next year in various locations around the country, which could lead to great post-produced content.

The custom-built drones that will race in the league can reach speeds of 90 miles per hour, as they avoid crashing into walls, weave through obstacles and chase down one another while in flight. In addition to the drones, the race courses will also be created to look great when captured on video.

The pilots of the racing drones will be wearing goggles that show a video feed from the camera that is mounted on their drone, which will make it seem that the pilots are in the cockpit. They would need to see as if they were there, as the race courses will feature turns and corners that will be too hard to navigate otherwise.

What viewers would see, however, is another thing, as the drones will also carry high-definition cameras to record footage at better qualities compared to the cockpit cameras of the pilots.

According to Horbaczewski, the Drone Racing League is looking to help drone racers shed their "hobbyist" image, in a bid to make such a sport more appealing to the mainstream audience. Drone racers need to design and build their own drones, as most drone companies do not sell racing drones, and they also need to be great pilots. The league is looking to change this not just by paying the pilots, but also by paying for all the costs of equipment and maintenance.

According to Horbaczewski, a pit crew will manage all the drones, which will be the same among all the pilots in the league.

"That levels the playing field and ensures everyone is on equal footing. And so the pilots are coming in to fly in the same way that Lewis Hamilton doesn't spend his weekends strapping parts onto his car. He's a driver, that's what he does," he said.

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