Drone Racing Might Just Be The Next Big Thing

Arguably, drones are one of the next big things that will revolutionize many industries. We’ve already seen them portrayed in many movies and TV shows in not-so-distant futures, and what with Amazon planning drone deliveries, we can’t imagine it’ll be long before they are a common sight flying around cities.

While drone racing remains underground in many places, the Drone Racing League is hoping to change that — and turn it into a real sport. In the recent article by The New Stack, they compare drone racing to the beginning of skateboarding back in the 90’s;

With a small group of people pushing the envelope and inventing every day.

Not for long though. DRL is making a huge push to turn this into a mainstream sport, and we gotta admit — we don’t mind. After all, this is like pod-racing on crack. Just take a look at the following promo video for their course the Gates of Hell: the Dream Takes Form.


That is some exciting stuff. We love the use of colored lights to indicate the map path — this could become an industry in itself, designing race tracks for drones! Imagine ones where the route changes mid-race, it’s all possible with a huge network of lighted gates… there’s so many possibilities…

[Thanks for the tip Destinyland!]

49 thoughts on “Drone Racing Might Just Be The Next Big Thing

    1. I think you (or rather I infer that you) think the size of and growth of the professional gaming industry is small. I disagree, keep in mind that ‘professional gaming’ encompasses not only tournaments but streamers. In 1 instance 11.4 million people subscribe to Markiplier’s YouTube channel. 190 million views in the last 30 days, 4 billion over the channel’s life time. That is ONE streamer.

      On the topic of ‘DRL’ I don’t think it will ever ‘take off’ in a huge way. Its already quite popular among people who are already interested in quads, but I don’t think it has a ton of draw or appeal to those who aren’t acquainted or interested in RC/Quad copters. (like you said, low stakes.)

    1. You mis-spelled “how to spot folks pitching a reality TV series promo”.

      It had human interest, action, even a crash. They’re making TV sports. Still, it looked cool.

      If you’re into authenticity, check out the linked French guys out racing in a forest. That’s rad. And real.

      1. I think one of the biggest mistakes the FAA made when creating the UAS regulations was to not inform the public on it’s general policies and procedures regarding how it executes and enforces them. Which leads to a lot of misunderstandings and a false sense of confidence for some..

        While this article is intended for actual pilots, the FAA will most likely carry out it’s procedures in the same manner for everything it regulates.. It is after all a government administration who is empowered by congress to create enforceable regulations by local, state and federal law enforcement….just as any pilot would be subject due to any violation they made. http://www.aopa.org/Pilot-Resources/PIC-archive/FAA-Enforcement/FAA-Enforcement

        I haven’t seen this document posted, but then I don’t really follow this too much.. https://www.faa.gov/uas/regulations_policies/media/UAS_Fact_Sheet_Final.pdf

        I’m not 100% sure this is the correct document, because I’m not going to read the whole thing… but this one looks like it outines how the FAA enforces it’s regulations based on the incident.. https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/agc/pol_adjudication/agc400/civil_penalty/Rules/media/dsp_RulesofPrac.pdf

        There seems to be some misconception among some, that the FAA has no power and can’t enforce it’s regulations…. Please learn about your country and read how congress works with regulating agencies to empower them and give them the ability to do their jobs..

      2. And if they fly indoors it doesn’t matter if they are registered. And they wouldn’t need tail numbers even if they were registered. They just need a number in the battery compartment.

  1. Does anyone remember the Red Planet game at Virtual World? Probably not … anyway, drone racing really reminds me of that.

    There is one huge technology that could come out drone racing, and simultaneously hugely enable it: good, live, medium-range, reliable, low latency digital wireless video. Ambarella appears to make some pretty important products in this space, but it is likely going to take some underpaid graybeard or professor to cook up a new IEEE hardware and MAC standard to support this specific mission to really make it happen.

  2. wow, is this real? this clip looks like literal garbage straight from reality tv discovery/learning channel show
    are they doing it on purpose? is this a pilot for a TV network catering to the lowest common denominator (nascar, wwe and ghost hunting shows)?

  3. The only thing I’m convinced of is that someone is spending a lot of time and money trying to persuade people that it will be the next big thing. There seems to have been a steady stream of “next big thing” promotional articles popping up over the last year or so, but I’ve not seen any “have you seen this awesome race that happened” type stuff.

    I agree with the people that are skeptical. I think there would be more buzz about actual content by now if it was going to take off. It seems this falls in the list of activities that are really fun to do, but not terribly engaging to watch for very long. Not many people aspire to be a great drone pilot, and as Matt said there is no element of danger.

    Quadcopters are also already essentially controlled by software to stay in the air. The best pilot if this did get serious is going to be a computer quite quickly unless they heavily restrict the software side.

  4. I got five seconds into that video before it annoyed me so much I ragequit. I don’t want drone racing to be “the next big thing” if that means turning into another mainstream sport with Red Bull sponsoring every flat surface and grid girls/pit babes and huge amounts of corporate money. I’d rather see it alongside combat robots- by nerds, for nerds :)

    1. Exactly, it’s embarrassing. It’s presented like their lives are on the line and they are braving great personal harm WWF style. If they had some humility and actually came across as they are, geeks that might be fighting ear infections, but showcasing some great technology, they’d get more respect.

    1. “the beginning of skateboarding back in the 90’s” you have to remember most of the writers and readers weren’t born before the 90’s so nothing before that really existed. I was 12 in 1967 when I built my own “hacked” skateboard using composite wheel roller skate trucks which was far superior to the cheap commercial boards with their metal wheels from the toy store.

    1. I was watching thinking “hey, it’s all indoors so there’s no need to worry about no-fly restriction or calling the local airport and tower…” then they flew outside. :(
      Oh well. Maybe you could convince the FAA (pay them crap-tons of money) to give you a variance for an event like this (no more then height of building, nets in place to prevent drones from leaving property, etc)?

  5. The first hint was the huge number of LEDs on each drone. Two laps? Maybe with pit stop. “Let’s see how quick you can change the tires … err, accumulators”.
    And from that, to make the race more hackaday-esque, they should start the race by building the drones from kits.
    And instead of qualifications for start positions, they should run qualifications for the LEDs colours (voltage needed to light the LEDs increases from red to blue see this chart http://www.oksolar.com/led/led_color_chart.htm). The winner takes red LEDs, the 2nd takes yellow, so on. Or vice-versa if you want to have a more balanced race. If they are using tricolour LEDs i suppose that the voltage drop is also proportional with the wavelength.
    On the outside leg of the race there should be some sand people to shot at the drones from death star like turrets with narrow angle EMP gun. And when the drone is hit, the pilot also should be zapped.
    The next level of races will involve tinny harpoons and appropriate sized AT-AT’s.

  6. drone DRONE dronedronedrone DRONE DRONE drone drone drone.

    take anything any idea strap DRONE to it and someone thinks they’ve got the Next Big Thing.

    As if everything must fly, have 4 rotors, and suddenly if it’s been done before, it’s “different”!

  7. Well… by one side is good that someone tries to create a new “sport” may be this can cause that FAA laws change a little for people in DC by example or this can cause some demand on battery packs that can last and be cheaper more so R&D will worth enough to make betters and cheap batteries, etc, etc, etc…

    On the other hand, I don’t like that someone try to influence me into something that isn’t well established, this is like some kickstarter campaign or like some bigger sports leagues trying to gain more people (NFL into latinamerica or UFC). All of this is only money. But that’s only my personal opinion.

  8. “Arguably, drones are one of the next big things that will revolutionize many industries.” Not if the Socialist U.S. Government and their FAA Goons have anything to say about it! And even if the FAA boot on the neck of small businesses isn’t enough to cripple the emerging industry, there’s always the IRS.

  9. If we let this become an official sport it will hurt the hobby industry, patent licensing will get crazy and so will all the trademarking and rights to display content from these “official races”.

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