After a preseason event last year, the Drone Racing League (DRL) announced a six-race circuit to be held in 2016. DRL enlists top drone pilots from around the world to compete in obstacle course style races using custom made drones that can travel at speeds up to 80 MPH. According to the DRL website, courses will include locations at abandoned malls, NFL stadiums, and subway tunnels. The season ending World Championship will also feature an iconic backdrop unveiled later this season.
The drones used by the pilots are state of the art, built with custom designs from the DRL in-house team of engineers. One of the most compelling aspects of the drones is that each pilot will maneuver his or her drone with FPV (First Person View) flight. What this means is that each pilot will fly the drone as though he or she is in the cockpit of the drone. The drones have special cameras attached to them that feed directly into the goggles of the pilots.
This camera operation is great not only for the pilots, but also for the viewing audience that can tap into any pilot’s camera feed at any time during the race. These advanced standardized drones (known as the DRL Racer 2) create a level competitive playing field that also gives the drones the ability to fly around barriers and through challenging courses. Each drone is also equipped with over 100 color changing LEDs to enable the audience to distinguish the drones.
The DRL will work this season by maximizing each of the 5 regular season events, culminating in the 6th event being the World Championship. Each of the 5 regular season events will have three stages: Qualifiers, Semi-finals, and Finals. Pilots will earn more points as they advance through the events, and they will earn the most points if they win the Finals of an event. Pilots who finish the regular season with the most points are invited to the World Championship.
The regular season events feature massive venues, equipped with steep flights of stairs, tight turns, and narrow tunnels. Checkpoints and gates will also be featured at each race. If pilots fail to pass through a checkpoint or gate in a race, points will be deducted, regardless of finishing time.
The Drone Racing League produced a riveting short film featuring last year’s preseason event, “The Gates of Hell”. The video depicts the drama that is expected to unfold during the 2016 regular season. The Drone Racing League also released a teaser to the first race of the season “Miami Lights” and some video already surfaced about what is in store for the fans. It should come as no surprise that one of the first drone races is being held in Miami’s Sun Life Stadium, after it was reported last August that Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross invested $1 million dollars from his co-founded venture capital firm RSE Ventures. The release date for the first episode of the season will be February 22.
The DRL is looking to take parts of all aspects of tech and sports to create one incredibly blended professional sports league. DRL is taking elements of the video game sport industry, which continues to grow in viewership and popularity, and combining it with parts of the traditional sporting world of racing. Together, DRL has created a perfect mix, which will have the opportunity to attract both gamers and traditional sports fans alike. Furthermore, DRL has hit a home run by giving viewers the opportunity to watch each event from both the FPV cameras that each pilot is wearing as well as with a standard eye view from cameras set up in the racing venue.