I’ve recently noticed that my posts tend to be pretty serious. Of course Science is usually treated as a serious subject but even my reviews of movies and books seem to be straightforward rather than lighthearted. So today I’m going to talk about something just for the fun of it. Drone Racing!
Now flying drones have been around for a long time. I had a radio controlled model P-51 Mustang back when I was a kid (It’s still in my basement) But the latest generation of drones with CCD cameras that allow the operator to see what the drone sees and high energy lithium-ion batteries powering high torque electric motors have revolutionized the consumer market for drones.
With more and more people buying and operating drones it was only a matter of time before somebody started competitions for them and the first organized drone races appear to have begun in Australia in 2014. Formally these races are know as First Person View (FPV) Drone Races where the drone operator wears virtual reality glasses showing images from the drone’s camera as they pilot the drone through a set race track, usually with obstacles.
The courses can vary widely, being either indoor or outdoor, with either simple obstacles like a cone to go around to narrow passageways to maneuver through. Some courses are designed purely for speed while others emphasize maneuverability with crashes being a part of the fun.
One of the things I like best about drone racing is that spectators can also put on a pair of virtual reality glasses and get the view from any drone, switching from one contestant to another as they will. I think this technology will soon make it possible for people around the world to “tune in” on any contestant in any race.
This technology could fundamentally change just what it means to be a spectator at a sporting event. Imagine watching a baseball game where a ball is hit into the outfield and you get to watch from the centerfielder’s viewpoint as he chases down the ball through a CCD camera in his cap.
This new sport of drone racing has already spawned two “professional” leagues, the Drone Racing League (DRL) and MultiGP along with dozens of associations. DRL and MultiGP differ considerably in their rules with DRL actually providing the drones to contestants, thereby making every drone in the race as nearly identical as possible. MultiGP on the other hand has a published set of specifications a drone must meet but allows the contestants to design and use their own drones. They feel this promotes innovation and competition.
If you’d like to check out the Drone Racing League click on the link below.
If you’d like to check out MultiGP click on the link below.
The entertainment side of advancing technology is surely going to be one of the biggest job markets in the coming years. I think Drone Racing will take its place alongside Video Games and Computer Graphics for movies as expanding industries. But there I go getting serious again.