As more and more technologically-advanced drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, are developed and engineered, more and more uses and applications for these little marvels of engineering emerge.
Just recently, drones have been used for a new application that’s been all the rage in the United States, receiving funding from major sporting investors, and breaking new ground each day in terms of development, with the goal of turning this endeavor from a mere hobby to a fully competitive and commercially viable sport in the truest sense of the word.
Welcome to the brave new world of drone sports.
Imagine a quadcopter flying at 70 to 80 miles per hour, navigating tight turns and negotiating treacherous curves, jostling for space and position amongst other racers…until an ill-timed cut sends it hurtling towards a steel wall with no give at all, obliterating it to kingdom come.
It ain’t NASCAR, that’s for sure…it’s first-person drone racing.
Best of all, you don’t need to be a NASCAR driver to participate; all you need is a drone, a camera, and first-person goggles (providing a live feed from the drone) to navigate.
Before you take your Phantom 3 out to race, it must be noted that there are specially-designed drones for racing – an excellent starting choice would be the Eachine Racer 250, which retails at a fraction of a Phantom 3 ($189.99); RotorCopters has a comprehensive review.
A New Form of Aerial Combat
This is a new sport that you wouldn’t use your DJI Phantoms for – an acceptable consideration once you find out that this sport is the equivalent of a demolition derby. Alternatively, it is a fully mechanical, modern-day version of the ancient sport of cockfighting.
A pit is all that holds both drones, as they feel out each other as though they were two roosters aiming to get the best angle to swoop in with a killing blow. The fight is over in seconds, with the losing drone crashing into the ground, with death throes emanating from its motor.
This is a hybrid sport combining the mechanical innovation of drones with the pugilistic nature of a prizefight, with points being awarded for every crash. Instead of a 10-second count, however, fallen drones are allowed a 90-second respite for their pilots to try to fix it before a winner is finally declared.
These drones are built from pre-constructed kits that are available at $400 from the Aerial Sports League; alternatively, a pre-constructed aerial combat drone called the Hiro Quadcopter is available at $650.
A League of Their Own
Drone sports are slowly but surely gaining acceptance into the mainstream. As investment pours in, leagues have begun to form. The Aerial Sports League seeks to be the first officially recognized league for drone combat and drone racing in the United States, and is starting to drum up major investment and support for its cause.
Another league that is focused on being the Formula 1 for drone racing is also on the rise; the Drone Racing League is in the middle of its first season, and, having secured funding from venture capital and enthusiastic supporters, looks poised to make waves in the very near future.
At the rate they are going, it won’t be too long until they gain the recognition they crave and deserve for having been pioneers of a new sporting revolution.