Is Drone Racing The Next Arena Sport?
Drone hobbyists have been racing for a few years now and every since the internet got a whiff of excitement with them they have yet to die down. It’s hard sometimes to see the fun in watching drones flying around and around much how NASCAR is about driving around in the same circle for a couple hundred miles.
The difference between NASCAR and drone racing is that the track is not set for drone racing. For some races the track could be housed inside and around an abandoned factory of sorts to give the racers the ultimate challenge. Some can even be made in a few hours with the right kind of set up in the backyard.
That’s the idea behind drone racing, where pilots twist, turn and flip their drones around complex courses. All this, while their body stays put thanks to goggles that deliver a first-person view from their drone’s camera. It's quite invigorating to watch and to witness especially when the crashing occurs.
Competitive Drone Racing
Competitive drone racing is about to get a big boost. A new group called the Drone Racing League is pulling together the world’s top drone pilots for a five-race season culminating in a world championship event. The Drone Racing League has gone all out to trick out the Miami’s Sun Life Stadium for high-octane drone racing, building a hybrid outdoor-indoor racing circuit along with radio equipment to make it all possible.
“It’s an exciting, real-life experience mixed with video-gamelike dynamics,” said Nicholas Horbaczewski, the chief executive and founder of the league. “These races are short sprints. It has that thrill of a 100-meter dash or horse racing.”
Whether it's in speed/agility course, freestyle competition or team sport drone racing is going to be the next sport that everyone wants to be apart of. With speed and agility course being the main course it'll come down to whoever is the fastest and/or whoever doesn't crash their drones. Not every drone that crashes automatically mean that they are out of the race even if you use reinforced parts but if you are going around a corner at 50 mph or so and you hit a wall or get clipped you better believe your drone will be obliterated. To some the freestyling competition is where it's at, with a timed freestyle set to do all the skilled flips, turns and complex maneuvers you can do and not to mention the fact that it's less stressful towards breaking your drone to a million pieces and having to replace it afterwards.
The Drone Racing League is going to have their hands full for the next upcoming years and seasons getting everything perfect. But as for right now at the moment, drone racing remains in its formative stages. Competition rules are still being figured out; the spectator experience is flawed; and no one knows quite how the sport will be managed, or by whom. Though courses are mostly set up in open fields that is likely to change as groups seek more exotic venues, like forests, abandoned buildings or even something bigger and more exciting.
"Coverage of DRL let's us merge storytelling, technology and competition into compelling weekly content that we believe will appeal to a growing audience," said Matthew Volk, ESPN's director of programming and acquisitions.
It was recently announced that the Drone Racing League and ESPN have finally reached an agreement for the network to broadcast the first full season of the upstart organization. So don't forget to check out the National Drone Racing League video for the 2016 season with the video down below and don't forget to tune in on Thursday and Saturday nights on ESPN2 starting on Oct. 23. for one-hour episodes concluding with the Drone Racing League World Championship final episodes on ESPN with the two-hour championship broadcast premiere on Nov. 20.
Now racing competitively might not be everybody's sport but recreational flying is just as fun and less stressful. These are the times where you can really test out your limits and really push your drone to the max. How else are you going to learn how to do a barrel roll or do a 450 pinwheel or any other of the cool drone tricks? Just remember when testing out your limits that you do so in an open field so that you don't crash within the first ten minutes of flying your drone around.
Some racing and flying around aren't meant to be on a track sometimes the best tracks are the ones in old structures or parking garages. With the ability to fly as low as you want to or as high as the ceiling is the best tracks are the ones that always give you a challenge around the next corner.
If you are going to do some recreational flying we recommend on finding some old run down structures, these structures always end up having great views and nothing beats a great view especially when you are looking through your googles and especially when your done editing the footage to upload to YouTube.
Even old structures or parking garages aren't the best sometimes and sometimes you need to have a little bit of originality when creating your very own racetrack. With a couple of props and few well placed marker you can have your own racetrack that you can change every other weekend. That's the best kind of racing where you are always changing yourself and always coming up with new racetrack ideas. Just like the guys who put their heads together and came up with racing drones at night with neon lights on a custom racetrack.
Just as night golf is as popular with people who like to play golf, drone racing at night is just as fun, in our opinion it's better. Even with all the super fancy monitor stuff they have going on in the video, the background video of just the race alone is amazing and fun to watch. With just a bit of money and time and don't forget a huge backyard to fly around in it's definitely possible for anybody to have a track to race at night with all the neon lights on but just expect people to flock to your backyard in wonder of drone racing at night. Now if only they could incorporate night racing into the drone racing league events then they might have more of a reason for people to watch drone racing.
3D Printing DIY Drones
If you've ever watched Star Wars then at one point in your life you've wanted to know what it's like to be inside a Star Wars X-Wing fighter or a TIE fighter and act as if you're flying it around with sound effects and all, whether it be in dogfight in space or trying to escape the empire there's no other kind of spaceship you've ever wanted to fly in. That's what the guys at CorridorDigital thought too and that's why they made this amazing Star Wars Drone fighting scene with nothing but a couple GoPros, some 3D printing models and a few drones.
What’s most impressive about the short film is just how little of it was VFX. Yes, the blasters and some of the more obvious bits were, but all of the crazy flying footage was actually captured by a couple of drones, and the cockpit shots were shot by hand as well. The dogfight video was shot in two parts, one with the FPV drone footage and the other cockpit footage was recorded separately and then combined in post production.
While the Rotor Riot team was outside filming the drone sequence, the Corridor Digital folks were inside creating custom cockpits for the X-wing and Tie-Fighter models. The cockpits were 3D printed using ABS plastic and treated with an acetone vapor bath to smooth off the rough edges and give the cockpit a shiny finish. Once processed, the models were painted by hand and mounted on boards.
A GoPro was placed inside the empty cockpit and used to record the footage of the cockpit model itself while they watched the drone footage so that they could match the aerial moves and light direction. Once both the aerial and earthbound footage was captured, they combined it all in post to yield the final video above. Pretty impressive what some people can do with some 3D printing drones and a weeks worth of time. Now all we are waiting for is the race from Star Wars Episode 1 in the same setup these guys just did.
We all know flying drones is a blast and is turning out to be the next great thing and now that you can add 3D printing drone parts nothing make us more excited about flying every other day. There are tons of other models and "spaceships" that can be create for everyday flying. It's not just Star Wars TIE fighters and X-Wings that can be used to have fun with flying.
There are other "spaceships" and drone models from various websites online like Thingiverse, MyMiniFactory and more that you can download and change to fit your drone. The best ones yet come from creating them with 3D software always remember to add your own personal touch when creating your own drone model. But just remember to have fun flying your drone, fly safe and always and above all else fly within the areas for flying drones.