Can This Become A Legitimate Spectator Sport?
I am excited about being at the beginning of a new technological era and I am talking about the spreading of drone racing throughout not only this country but the world. It has just been announced that ESPN has added legitimacy to the sport of racing drones by bringing it on board.
Many of us are still adjusting to the fact that drones are becoming a real part of our life and it is only going to flourish. Then there are the drone enthusiasts that are looking for more than just a hobby.
Granted the initial broadcast will be somewhat secluded and you will probably have to search to find it since it is going to be broadcast live on ESPN3 which is an online channel before being rebroadcast elsewhere. But it is a start.
International Drone Racing Association On ESPN
The International Drone Racing Association and ESPN have entered into a multi-year distribution deal with the first airing in August. ESPN has been spreading its wings the past couple of years taking chances on peripheral sports while trying to save its fan base as more and more subscribers drop cable. It is reported they have lost over 7 million subscribers just the last two years which equates to $550 million in lost income.
For those unaware drone racing is a combination of talents. First you need to either buy or build a special racing drone. Then you need to have a special headset that places you into a virtual reality environment. The drone pilot then proceeds to race through a track often the size of a football field either indoors or outdoors. The adrenaline rush is the same as racing formula one or Nascar without the life and death consequences should things go haywire.
ARRIS FPV250 250 Mini Racing Sport Carbon Fiber Quadcopter RTF with DEVO7 Transmitter for FPV (Assembled)
Drones Reach Speeds Of 100 mph
Some of these flying robots go as fast as 100 mph although they probably average somewhere around 60 mph when on the course. Like any racing equipment, they are continuously being modified built, rebuilt and tweaked to get the best performance. As the sport grows there are going to be more and more local clubs and organizations participating. There are already regional and national leagues being formed as we speak.
What really makes the sport exciting for the pilots is there are no life-threatening consequences if and when the little quadcopter crashes and burns. The pilots stand about with specially designed goggles and guide their little drone with a live video feed from a camera on the nose of the drone. This is called First Person View (FPV) racing directly from the world of video games.
So for the pilots the thrill of racing is apparent, but what about the audience? What is the best way for them to participate? At the moment the best way seems to be by viewing videos which do a mixture of first and third person presentations. Sometimes you are viewing the race through the drone’s nose camera blasting around curves and other times you are watching from the sidelines as the drones whip by.
Putting Audience In Driver's Seat
Putting the audience in the drone’s seat is exciting although with the many loops and rolls it can become a little nauseating but if they are watching from just the sidelines it can sometimes look like a gnat flying by. So is there a solution to get the best of all worlds? Not yet, but it is being worked on by the experts. Adding colorful LED lights to the drones and/or objects they fly through has been entertained. Drones actually crashing through light bulbs has been tried and rising up through a layer of fog creates excitement and a little better visual. None of these ideas have actually solved the problem and to turn this into a large spectator sport some drastic changes are going to have to be implemented. With ESPN on board, I am sure there is a rainbow with a drone at the end of it somewhere.
To get the best feeling for how this sport is growing simply go to YouTube and type in drone racing. Who knows, you may get bitten by the bug and find a new hobby.
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