what is drone racing

What is Drone Racing?

What is Drone Racing?

Over the past couple of years, you may have heard of a new craze spreading around the world where people race drones, but exactly what is drone racing? Drone racing is a sport which involves small and very fast robots that are made to fly, overcome a number of obstacles and finish the race within the shortest possible time in a designated circuit or racing venue. Unfortunately, providing an exact definition that will explain everything about this sport is quite impossible at the moment since it’s still new and continues to evolve. But in case you are interested in exploring this new sport try to read some of the basic drone racing facts provided below.


Drone racing is a new sport

Drone racing is a new sport. In fact, it started as an underground activity wherein individuals who want to participate have come together to race their drones in places such as empty car parks, parking garages and recently in forest areas as inspired by the speeder bike chase seen on the Star Wars movie, Return of the Jedi.

But since drone racing has started to become popular, many enthusiasts have started forming more organized groups and tried to set up a number of rules that will govern the race to make sure that every participant is given the same chance of winning as well as make the competition more organized.  The move towards making this hobby as an international sports continues and such efforts gave way for the first informal world drone racing championship in 2015 where Chad Nowak from Brisbane, Australia became the champion and brought home the prize of $15,000 Australian dollars ($11,410US).

As of January 2016, an organization called the Drone Racing League came into existence. The group claimed that they were able to collect a total of $8 million Australian dollars ($6,08,5480US) that they will use to operate an international FPV drone racing series.


Drone racing is the next big thing

what is drone racing

Based on the latest developments in the field of drone racing, many sports experts seem to agree that this can be the next big thing if developed well. According to these experts, a well-organized drone racing industry that will operate all over the globe could generate a huge amount of income for all the stakeholders since the activity’s popularity continues to grow.

Aside from that, more and more people are starting to enjoy this sport since almost everyone can easily engage into this without spending a lot of money. All they need to do is get a good drone, look for a strategic venue to practice, master all the basics of flying the quadcopter and explore the other flight requirements that will enable them to win races.


Drone racing requires faster drones

Drone racing is a competition. Therefore, racers are expected to make sure that their drones can beat their competitors. Many experienced racers usually make their drones lighter by stripping some of the useless accessories like the GPS, landing gears and long wires attached to it. Since the weight is reduced, the drone tends to become faster and more agile. In addition to that, many racing drones are also upgraded by using more powerful motors and batteries that can hold higher voltages.  With these upgrades, the drones can possibly reach the speed of 50 miles per hour in an instant.


Drone racing requires the use of sophisticated FPV cameras

Having a reliable First Person View (FPV) camera is also an important concern that drone racers should take into consideration. This is because having such allows the pilot to conveniently see the direction where the drone is going and quickly implement the needed manoeuvres during the race. Since the drones are very fast, it is also important for racers to use cameras that can be easily tilted, has a higher frame (at least 60 FPS) and a wider field of vision (FOV) to conveniently determine the course ahead.

Aside from using sophisticated FPV onboard cameras, professional drone racers also use video transmitters and video immersive goggles during competitions for this help them gain the advantage over their rivals. By using these tools, a racer can easily develop a good strategy to finish the race faster since the videos that are effectively transmitted from the air is very helpful in planning the next manoeuvres that must be done. The good thing is that these tools can be readily purchased in the market and most of the advanced drone models are sold with built-in video transmitters as well as capable of providing real time video feed to the ground.

what is drone racing


Drone racers use reliable controllers

Drone racing requires the use of reliable controllers. This is a very important aspect that all professional drone racers would always take into consideration because the controller is the only tool that a pilot could use to control the drone while it is in flight. Due to its very important role in winning competitions, many racers are using the most sophisticated controllers that are available in the market. In most cases, they are using those that provide a lot of added functions that are designed to make the drone more responsive to the commands provided from the ground while it is on the air.

On top of that, many professional drone racers are currently using the controllers that are more resilient to interference and this strategy seems to work well for them. This is because lesser interference is synonymous to seamless exchange of information between the ground station and the drone which is up in the air all throughout the race. It also promotes the drone’s faster response to any change in command that the pilot wants to implement to suit the changing conditions of the race course.


Drone racing is a cheap sport

what is drone racing

Contrary to the common belief, drone racing is definitely a cheap sport. It will actually require a few hundred dollars to set up a good drone, install a reliable onboard camera and have a reliable controller. All of these components can be readily obtained using the internet at lower prices. In addition to that, flying the drone does not involve a particular place to practice since this can be accomplished in open fields, empty parking spaces or parking garages.


Drone Racing around town

This year alone, we’ve already seen official drone racing events take place across the world. In Jacksonville, Florida, a group called the First Coast FPV have started putting on races twice a month. By transforming a local school’s track and field, they’re able to set up an obstacle using flags and cones placed at strategic points, and it’s already growing popularity.

In LA, the Drone Racing League used the abandoned Hawthorne Plaza mall to set up the ultimate drone racing course, calling it the “L.A.Pocalypse”. The theme here, as you may have guessed, is an apocalyptic Los Angeles, with major LA landmarks, including the Hollywood sign, in ruins. Visit here for more information.

what is drone racing

A couple of weeks ago, The Cleveland Quad Squad used Mohican Park for their own drone racing event, but being a public park, it can only be possible when there aren’t too many people around. Safety is one of their main concerns, and will notify the Cleveland Hopkins FAA control tower prior to any drone racing they put on.

Drone racing is growing popularity rapidly and has even caught the attention of  ESPN. The American sports channel announced earlier this month that they will showcase the 2016 US National Drone Racing Championships in August and again in October.

It’s fair to say that drone racing is not going away anytime soon, and I reckon we may even see major sporting brands sponsoring these official events and sports channels around the world televising them in the next year or two.

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