LED lights are used to trace drone paths and obstacles DAVID T KINDLER
Imagine zipping through the air at 60 miles per hour, avoiding obstacles, using only your thumbs to steer. Drone racing is an exciting new sport with leagues popping up all over the nation. Pilots make their own drones and wear First Person View (FPV) goggles which give them a drone’s eye view of the race. Drone racing is gaining prevalence across the board but it is especially popular among individuals with disabilities that prohibit other forms of racing. Zoe Stumbagh, a former motorcycle racer, has taken up drone racing since a medical issue forced her into bed rest for two years. She describes the experience as “… almost spiritual because you’re seeing something you physically can’t do, and that elevates your consciousness.”
For now, most leagues are small and regional but the Drones Sports Association and Drone Racing League want to go professional. Interest in the sport is increasing, ESPN recently signed a deal with the Drone Racing League (DRL) and Bud Light has signed on as the title sponsor for DRL tryouts. However, drone officials are having a hard time determining how to make drone racing a spectator sport. Pilots are standing stock-still in their goggles and drones are little more than large buzzing flies to spectators. Leagues are currently experimenting with LED light decorations for drones and obstacles to give the viewer a better idea of what’s happening.
ESPN will be airing 6 races of the 2017 Allianz World Championship in June.
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