Is The Future of Sport Unmanned?

Every month, it seems our fascination with drone aircraft continues.

Since the original vision of drones as unmanned military aircraft, they have quickly become the future of mail delivery, with Amazon famously developing a new full-scale parcel distribution service, and even the new way to transport medical supplies to hard-to-reach areas.

As many race to find new ways to harness this technology, the drone race itself has also become a sport.

Speed and Tactics

On the face of it, drone racing involves competitive flying of quadcopters around a track.

But while drones now rank as one of the most popular gifts for men, this is more than simply taking your new toy for a spin. Just like in F1 car racing, each pilot must think tactically to balance the craft’s fragility and limited battery life with the speed and daring to pull to pole position. Racers need to pull over for regular pit-stops to swap batteries and check their tech, putting an emphasis on strong support as well as talented flying.

However, unlike any other racing, drone racing busts wide open the idea of boring, flat grey roads as a race track.

Circuits can be made anywhere and in any configuration. Whizzing a drone through a professional circuit can look like the Star Wars forest race or the sci-fi magic of the TRON movies. The limits are only in the designer’s imagination and as drones increase in flight time, manoeuvrability and strength, the courses will surely evolve.

Take the Driver’s Seat

Even better, drone racing allows both pilots and spectators to get the view from the cockpit and feel like they are at the helm of these high speed machines. As VR becomes more commonplace, it’s easy to imagine popping on a headset and tuning into the next race.

In fact, Dubai recently held the world’s first World Drone Prix, where over 150 global teams came together to race for a $250,000 top prize, and gave spectators the option to use VR goggles to get right into the action. The course itself was a visual feast, incorporating a rainbow of LEDs, futuristic design and fiendish obstacles to create a real life version of the classic WipEout games.

If that sounds exciting but you can’t get to Dubai, the US and UK already have their own drone racing leagues and it’s a trend that’s sure to continue as VR and drones surely join the list of tech that changed our lives.

An Explosive Future?

And where to next? I think that drones’ past and future will connect: war machine + big boy’s toy = drone robot wars!

Imagine two drones weaving at top speed through a dangerous environment of high-tech traps, each trying to bring the other down by any means necessary. Or pitting the speedy but fragile quadcopter against a heavily-armoured, land-based robot that can rest until the drone uses up its short battery life then falls defenceless to the ground.

Now imagine getting to watch that in real-time first person perspective… Sign me up!

Image Source: Light-trail Drone