Drone Racing Technology and The Future of the Sport
Many people know drones as sophisticated weapons to be used only in war zones. But this is not the case anymore. The use of drones from military purposes has expanded. Drones are now extensively used for commercial as well as personal purposes. Some drone users have taken it to the next level. These fun loving drone users use their drones to race each other. They have made it a matter of pride and a way to check who owns the better drone. This has resulted in the arrangement of dedicated tournaments related to drones with high prize money. Usually drones are equipped with 4 motors and usually of the configuration of “X” or “+”, but in this particular case, the configuration which is being implemented is of the form of alphabet “H” so as to accomplish forward movement not the upward thrust as in the case of delivery or photography drones.
The main aim of this type of racing is to provide high speed to the drone and use the speed and maneuvering skills to outpace the other drones. In future, it is predicted that drone racing would very much be as popular as formula racing. Big companies will be vying to sponsor such events. In general, FPV or first person view is preferred that means the participant whose drone is racing will be able to see only what the drone’s front camera can see. To achieve this, the camera is placed on the nose of the drone or on its front and is used to transmit high radio wave signals to the participant and hence further commands are being supplied by the user. This way drone racing becomes a very exciting race including the mental co-ordination of participant along with high end skills used in making the drone.
The first person view (FPV) lets the viewer experience flying with great speed and maneuverability, passing the hurdles in between. It increases the level of difficulty to a much higher level as compared to the normally used third person view.
Although this racing was first invented in Australia now it is getting popular in other countries too where people are getting familiar with this prestigious technology. The selection of drone material and the motor is as such to meet the requirement of high speed and to overcome crashes which are quite inevitable during the race. There are many organizations which organize these kinds of events such as DRL (Drone Racing League), U.S. National Drone Racing Championship and many others. These organizations provide their own drone materials in order to level the playing field and verify the skills of pilots across a large number of participants. Drone racing provides excitement not only through pure speed and agility, but also though the robustness in the design of these drones. Nowadays it is quite common to use the materials having high strength to weight ratio for making drones lightweight. This technology can be very expensive. Even though this kind of racing has thrilled many, connectivity and data transfer rates for FPV video provides a hindrance behind the success of this sport.
The main motive of participants, aside from the love of the sport is the high amount of cash prizes at some of these events. Following is further insight in the world of drone racing and prize money.
World Drone Prix:
Just last week, a 15 year old was able to take $250,000 home after winning the World Drone Prix in Dubai. This was first of a kind tournament in Dubai. The total prize money of the tournament was 1 million dollars with the winner getting 25% of the total prize money. The participants raced by wearing goggles. Those goggles were connected to the camera which was mounted on the drone of each racer. The kid beat one hundred and fifty amateurs and professionals to win the title. About two thousand spectators converged to watch the spectacular tournament on Sunday afternoon. The race was organized by the crown prince of Dubai. He is also the head of the city’s Sports Council. This was the first ever race and Dubai plans to make it an annual event just like the Formula 1 race.
In the US, about a year ago, the Drone Nationals were held, which was the first ever national drone racing event in the US. The winner in that tournament was able to bag $25,000. The organizer of this event is planning to hold a world competition in Hawaii this October.
Drone Racing League:
Even startups have understood the potential of drone racing. A venture backed startup known as Drone Racing League held its first league tournament in the football stadium of Miami dolphins. The next one will most probably be held in Los Angeles. The top ten racers in DRL are as follows:
Zoomas hails from New York and got interested in drone flying in 2012 after watching Youtube videos. He has 15 points.
Moke, a freestyle pilot, has been racing for the past 1 year or so. He is second with 10 points.
Flying Bear, with 6 points, is third ranked. He is a Mechanical Product Design Engineer.
Rekrek is ranked fourth and has experience of flying drones all over the globe. He hails from Australia.
Furadi’s interested initially started from radio controlled helicopters. He transitioned to drones in 2014 and has not looked back since.
He comes from Boise, Idaho. He is a mobile tech specialist as far as his job is concerned. And his passion is drones.
He is known to be a fierce competitor.
He is the only Brazilian among the top ten. He has been flying drones for the past three years.
Bapu is from the state of California and he also transitioned to drones after starting with fixed wing airplane flying.
Nine also hails from the state of California and is currently ranked tenth.
So, we can see from the above three examples that drone racing is about to become the next big thing among racing sports. World Drone Prix is initiated by the cash rich UAE so it would have no problem of making it big. Seeing the possible success will cause many businesses and companies to sponsor events such as Drone Nationals and Drone Racing League. This will lead to the initialization of more drone tournaments and one day drone tournaments may become as popular as NFL or the English Premier League.