America looks set to have a new past-time that incorporates the fast-growing drone market and good old fashioned racing. Drone racing, a hot new eSport, uses First Person View (FPV) which sees contestants take a drone’s eye view in a race around a pre-defined course. Pilots wear FPV goggles that display a live feed from the drone’s camera, with speeds reaching up to 100 mph in some cases.
While once a hobby of drone enthusiasts, it has begun to transition from underground sensation to a highly publicized affair with the creation of the Drone Racing League (DRL). Looking to have its first public race later this year, the DRL is hoping to attract a mix of online gaming fans and technophiles.
Considering the fact that in 2014, viewership for the online game League of Legends was greater than Game 7 of the World Series and the final game of the NBA Championship, and you will realize the reasoning behind venture-capital firm RSE Ventures $1 million investment into the DRL. With a phenomenon like online gaming, part of the attraction for viewers is that nearly anyone can pick up the game and invest the time to have some degree of skill, and the same is true with FPV racing.
With the so-called “250 Class” of drones costing between $300 and $500 and reaching speeds of up to 70 mph, a DRL viewer could be operating a model similar to those used during a DRL race. Venues for upcoming DRL races will include abandoned factories and parking garages.
DRL founder Nick Horbaczewski described it as a “completely immersive experience,” and created the league after working as Chief Revenue Officer for Tough Mudder, an obstacle-racing event.
Horbaczewski expanded on what he believes the appeal of the DRL will be, “I felt drone racing could be a sport that resonated with people because it touches on the heritage of racing, but also brings in the benefits of new technology.” With online gaming packing venues like Madison Square Garden, the future for drone racing looks promising.