Maybe you’ve surfed the internet looking for something to do, or maybe you want to take your drone to the next level, but one thing is for certain: drone racing caught your eye. At Altitude Motion Media, we focus on the aerial photography aspect of flying drones, but drone racing has piqued our interest a time or two. Here are a few fun facts and things you need to know about drone racing.
Drone racing began in late 2014 in Australia as an amateur sport. Since those days, drone racing has grown in popularity so much so that it is considered one of the sports of tomorrow. From those early days in late 2014, there are now leagues you can join, racing associations to enforce rules and regulations, and races held all over the world.
The first thing to know is that your average drone isn’t for drone racing. Most market drones have a quadcopter design with the motors in a typically X-pattern like the DJI Phantom─which is great for aerial photography, but not so much for drone racing. Your typical quadcopter is designed to focus on hovering, rather than maneuvering around obstacles and going high speeds. Quadcopters used in drone racing need to be lightweight, and have the motors in a H-pattern that will focus the drone’s energy on moving forward and fast, rather than up.
There are three types of races that you can participate in: rotorcross which revolves around multiple drones passing a specific course as quickly as possible, drag racing in which the whole race relies on acceleration and top speed, and the time trial option which relies on maneuverability and speed. During races, drone pilots will use FPV (First Person View) which means they can only see what the drones see through a camera mounted on the nose of the drone that transmits the images via radiowaves to a set of goggles or a monitor worn by the pilot. Making sure that the drone’s controller, goggles or monitor, and the drone are synced is important during races, since one malfunction can be the difference between a loss and a win.
As drone racing grew into a popular sport, media outlets began to televise the events. The 2016 DR1 Invitational aired on the Discovery Channel and Eurosport, broadcasting in over 70 countries and was the most watched drone racing event of the year.
The 2017 DR1 Racing’s DHL Championship Series Fueled by Mountain Dew consisted of six races in locations around the world, with the finals airing on CBS and Eurosport. The broadcast of the series finals on CBS drew the largest audience ever for a professional drone race on network television.
In 2015 the US Fat Shark National Drone Racing Championships were held in a stadium at the California State Fair. Over 100 competitors competed in three events for a prize of $25,000.
In 2016 there was a $15,000 purse awarded to the winner of the MultiGP National Championships held in Muncie, IN and a $57,000 purse awarded to the winner of the U.S. National Drone Racing Championships Presented by GoPro.
The World Drone Prix held in Dubai saw the youngest competitor, 15-year-old Luke Bannister, walk away with a $250,000 purse in 2016.
People to Follow
If you’re still deciding whether drone racing is for you, but you’d like to keep up-to-date with the latest racing news, you can follow these people on twitter to quench your racing thirst.
@DroneRaceLeague This twitter account will keep you up-to-date on the latest events, deadlines, and gear.
@Multi_GP The official twitter account for the MultiGP drone racing league. There are tons of tweets to feed your drone racing needs from drone race videos to event sign-ups.
@dronegypsy The twitter account to keep you up to date on the latest advancements on FPV goggles, drones, and drone news in general.
With so many things drones can do, why not give racing a try? We’ll see you next time.
Also, if you are in our home town of Lincoln, Nebraska, check out the Lincoln Drone Racing group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/461668914000856/